Friday, 5 March 2010

Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Suzuki Roshi

One of the many wonderful things about having children is watching them experience the world with “beginner’s minds” unencumbered by the burdens we adults carry.
Having a family was what finally and irrevocably brought my path to Buddhism. Seeing how directly the influence of who I am and what I do on my children was powerful motivation to do delve deeper, to start to come to grips with my own suffering and self-destructive ways of being in the world.

For me the driving question was as a father – what was the legacy I wanted to leave my children with? The answer was light, joy and happiness. But these are not things we can give to other people but rather must embrace ourselves before we can share them with others.

This means not striving for perfection or measuring oneself against a standard of what should be. For me it has meant willingly and lovingly making time for telling simple and silly stories, falling asleep while watching cartoons, turning on a light in a dark room, and assembling Legos. It means creating and sharing a world where stuffed animals, imaginary friends and dogs, live and talk, act out and reflect, giving us the opportunity to share our true selves with those we love!

Another wonderful manifestation of beginner's mind is how I appreciate my relationship with my partner. She seems wiser, more caring, loving and attentive. Sometimes she talks and I find myself thinking admiringly - wow that was a pearl of wisdom, where did that come from? Or she will say something and I'll think - that's Buddhism! Or I find myself with this sneaking suspicion she has secretly been listening to my Gil Fronsdal talks from Audio Dharma while I have been sleeping... How is it that she has changed while I am the one who gets up early every morning to meditate?! And is it really so? Or is it that I am more able to appreciate and see her true self? Or is it that somehow our paths are intertwined and mutually supporting? She is a natural Bodhisattva. Wisdom and learning does not always need to be named.
How strange and wonderful to find that while my partner and children haven't taken to meditation, that we are partners, fellow seekers on the path! That they are my teachers in ways big and small.
It is a tender almost heart bursting joy when they come in to kiss my cheek while I meditate. Or cover my legs with a blanket. It seems like this is what it means to be truly human.

May we always embrace our beginner's mind!

May we open our hearts and minds to find teachers and friends in unexpected places, forms and guises,

Real and imaginary
Human and animal,

Big and small,

To accompany us on the path!

May we all be happy!

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