The awe and ease of Beginner's Mind
“In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few” Shunryu Suzuki
I was reminded of this familiar quote while reading the lovely book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner. In the book she remarks “To be in a constant state of learning is to be receptive to life itself.”
These two quotes really spoke to me about the wonder and awe experienced when we look at anything with fresh, inquiring eyes. To know that we really do not know is a very useful place to be.
Consciousness is a projection through which we see what we expect to see, we are continually updating our best guesses to take account of our ongoing experience. In view of this, it is important to hold ourselves open to news of difference, to hold our sense of things lightly, so that we can perceive possibilities and be in that constant state of learning.
Given we experience our moving approximation of what is inside and around us, we might wonder if we live life, or if life is living us. I’m not sure if it's an either or, perhaps it's more that it is both. Csikszentmihalyi famously talks about states of Flow in which we become absorbed in what we are doing to the extent that we and the activity are one. When this happens, I find it is as if life is being expressed through me, and I can be in a receptive state of gratitude and wonder. For example, In my work I may find myself expressing things in a way that surprises me or notice an ease of perception that opens up deep resonance and a sense of one-ness, from which awe and curiosity easily flow.
We live in a society where knowledge and knowing are highly prized. They have their place, no denying it. However, there is far more possibility and liveliness in not knowing, in discovering, in holding open to uncertainty. This is the heart of the intuitive and feminine in all of us, male and female, and it is a deeply generative space.
When you find yourself sure, perhaps ask, am I sure I’m sure? There is always more information, more to discover. How can you live beginner's mind today and adventure into your own world of possibilities?