Shoshin – The Beginner’s Mind

Sounds a bit paradoxical, but I can easily say that despite lessIknow45.pnghow much I’ve often thought that I knew throughout my life, or how hard-won that advanced knowledge came into being for me, the older I get the better I appreciate how little I actually DO know.

In truth it seems that with every passing day I feel this almost humorous certainty growing stronger within me: a certainty-of-my-own-ignorance—that jolting realization that what you once believed to be truth, actually wasn’t, and you may never know the REAL truth no matter how old or knowledgeable you become because that TRUTH exists in a realm that is incomprehensible to your present existence.

This body shock of awakening to our own innate ignorance can be scathingly honest and quite humbling.

It certainly was to my ego.

But to those who study Zen, this isn’t some new concept—some might simply call it ‘cultivating the Beginner’s Mind.’

What is Beginner’s Mind?  Here’s a good explanation first from Wikipedia, then from a Zen master himself.

Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning ‘beginner’s mind.’ It refers to having shozinbeginnersmind.pngan attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.”

Text source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin

Master Shunryu Suzuki can explain it far better than I can:

“People say that practicing Zen is difficult, but there is a misunderstanding as to why. It is not difficult because it is hard to sit in the cross‑legged position, or to attain enlightenment. It is difficult because it is hard to keep our mind pure and our practice pure in its fundamental sense.

In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means ‘beginner’s mind.’ The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind…

For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our ‘original mind’ includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self‑sufficient state of mind.

This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

The most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind.

You should not say, ‘I know what Zen is,’ or ‘I have attained enlightenment.’ This is shoshinmaster.jpgalso the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner.

Be very, very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.”

Shunryu Suzuki
from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

 

So I acknowledge that here I sit in my own ignorance while trying to make sense of our life existence.

These are the very things I often write about: What is reality?—What is consciousness?—What are we doing here? Why are we here? Who benefits and how do they benefit from our incarnating here during this time period or ANY time period?

All those unanswerable questions come down to the battle in our minds over the relevance between our DOING and our BEING.

Here is a basic truth as I presently know it:  I AM.  I EXIST.  I EXPERIENCE.  I OBSERVE.

And I try like the dickens NOT to judge the value of what I am observing because to do so implies a comparative knowledgebase that I do not have—at least not from my humble human perspective.

the-older-i-get-the-less-i-know-by-that-i-mean-the-less-i-am-sure-of-i-view-p-403x403-nkb3nfSo each day I open my eyes and wonder what this day will bring to me. I wonder what new realization will occur to my sensing abilities. I wonder what type of sense I can make of whatever is happening to me and around me, but knowing full well that ‘making sense’ is a judgment in itself.

However, I also know that only through shoshinbeginner’s mind—can I simply observe all and note those observances without judgment or expectation—knowing I must simply allow all occurrences (and not labeling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’) to flow along with the river of life into the great sea of consciousness that connects us all and patiently awaits our return.

This I also know:  Beginner’s Mind is not easily achieved nor sustained for long unless you willingly intend it.

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T-Baby Tours the Pampas

Pretty exciting times right now for the world’s most illustrious leaders. The G20 is meeting in Buenos Aries today to discuss the fate of the entire planet, and our favorite inflated, orange blowhard is there to see how many nations he can insult, dismiss, or push out of the way as he fights for air time.

And air time he will have!  Lots of hot air there as T-Baby tours the pampas!

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We’re so proud!

Identifying Perimeters

leafcapillaries.jpgThis image fascinated me—the intricacies of the water dispersion system in the leaf itself.

Of course it wasn’t the first up-close view I’ve had of a leaf’s moisture-dispersal system, but it was the image that so clearly defined the leaf capillary perimeter that caught my eye.  Look closely at that perimeter.  What told the leaf to create that particular perimeter border and to stop spreading those veins outward into infinity?

Recognizing that leaf perimeter is so important because it actually defines the origin of the leaf— it represents the tree species that created the leaf.

See the next image to better understand that a leaf petreeidentifyshapes83.jpgrimeter is indicative of the plant’s DNA and the growing environment that produced it. 

And while there are many leaf shapes for all those multitudes of tree DNA, all have the same function on the tree.

“Function of leaves leafcotoosystem

 

The function of leaves is to help the plant produce food by converting the energy in sunlight into chemical energy that the plant can eat. Chlorophyll is the molecule in the structure of the leaves that takes the energy in sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide gas into sugar and oxygen gas. This conversion process is known as photosynthesis.  The structures within the leaf convert the energy and make it possible for the plant to get food. … The leaf also has veins that can help to support the leaf by transporting food, water and minerals to the leaf and to the plant.”

So while I am mid-research into leaf function and leaf shapes, I find the shape that most matches the original image above showing the elaborate capillary system appears to be a leaf from the Bodhi tree.bodhitreewithleaves.jpg

Okay. What is significant about that? Well, to Buddhists the Bodhi tree is extremely significant because it was the location chosen by Siddhartha Guatama to meditate under until he reached enlightenment. He sat there supposedly for 49 days and endured unimaginable difficulties during the process before he transcended earthly existence and experienced the purity of Source itself; and was forever changed by it.

“Bodhi Tree – Fig Tree

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The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo, “peepal tree”, or “arasa maram, was a large and ancient sacred fig tree located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher who became known as the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment or Bodhi. In religious iconography, the Bodhi Tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed.”  (Wikapedia)

So I’ve suddenly realized that my initial intention on writing about the intricate leaf structure and its defining perimeter has gone astray with educational sidebars.  Now I’m even into the tale of Buddha. Does this still pertain to my original intention of showing that a tree’s DNA defines the majesty of the tree’s stature/shape and the shape of its identifying leaves all while I miraculously segue into how our own DNA shapes the perimeter of our lives and defines us, only if we let it?

Well, maybe or maybe not.  It’s not the most direct route taken to a conclusion. But that’s part of the point here, I think.

We, as individual leaves growing outward from our Soul Source are defined to some extent by our DNA, by our ancestral history of nature and nurture, and by our karmic debts from all other lives. Our personal leaf perimeters are somewhat distinct and defined because of those factors mentioned. You even know which tree we grew from by our shapes and functional life success.

But at the same time, we have potential for unimaginable changefor breaking through our pre-defined perimeters.

Take the Buddha himself. He wanted to be enlightened so badly that he was willing to sit in meditation until he ceased to exist in this world or until he reached the Source of All Knowledge and Wisdom itself.  Fortunately for him and for the rest of us, he tapped into that Source and survived to share his experiences with the rest of us.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the enlightened mind or what it took/takes to reach that state of awareness. And some would argue that Buddhism isn’t actually a religion as much as it is simply a philosophical path toward enlightenment. That tangent is not my concern today.

It would appear that during this leaf examination I have spread my word capillaries far from original intentions and only reined them back with a fragile border of pertinence.

The only other thing I know for certain is that my Bodhi tree still awaits me.

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Just Watching It All Play Out

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I would have commented on the midterm election results sooner, but I, like the rest of the country, am still awaiting the final tallies.

Clearly changes were made across the nation, with other changes still in the making.

And one thing remains the same for the time being: the insanity presently occupying the White House. The only difference is in how amped up it has lately become. Someone is definitely not happy there.

For the country and democracy in general, I think major progress was pushed forward, or let me rephrase that, major progress was retrieved from the garbage heap where it had been so flagrantly tossed 2 years ago when Obama left.

While we are nowhere near being out of the constitutional danger zone as a nation yet, I do think that some folks who were banking on voter apathy and inciting racial fears, were a bit disappointed in the election results. I also think those same folks will be even more disappointed when Mueller indictments start falling in the near future.furorpres18.jpg

You don’t have to like the guy in charge. You don’t even have to tolerate his tantrums and embarrassing displays of juvenile behavior around the globe. You only have to expect him to do his job in a conscientious and lawful manner. He is the President, after all.

And that is an expectation that is backed by the laws of the United States Constitution.

This isn’t a personality/popularity issue.  It isn’t a political hit job. It is simply a question of legalities that were violated and obliterated in some instances.

It isn’t even a morality issue because if that had ever been in play, he’d have been gone before he even started.

This is about violating laws. This is about trading influence for future rewards. This is about greed and corruption in the highest offices of the land.

meachumbooksoul.jpgThis is about taking back the soul of America—what we stand for—who we are.

This is about you and your family, and the kind of world you want your children to inherit.

This is about looking in the mirror across the entirety of the nation and liking what you see again—a diverse populace.

This is about getting real and serious on social change and helping others to make the best of their own lives. They don’t need handouts–they need hand ups. They need respect and acknowledgement of their basic right to personal dignity as human beings. This is who we are–this is what we do. We respect each other as human beings with shared goals for a better life for ourselves and for those we love.

This is the NEW America, we hope.

And this is our new agenda for moving forward with our lives.

For Christmas, get your new ballcap with the letters on it for “MAAA!”

Make America “AMERICA” again!capwithamericabeing.jpg

That’s what this midterm election just tried to do.

 

 

 

On the “Nature of Reality” Per Alberto V.

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Saw an interesting blog post from Alberto Villoldo this morning with his take on Peruvian lessons in humanity and how we often view each other:  https://thefourwinds.com/blog/shamanism/the-nature-of-reality/

… “An Earthkeeper realizes that while you have to change everything within, you still have a responsibility to others and to the planet. The way to modify the dream is to own everything that you perceive is amiss with the world: the ugly, the violent, the beautiful, and the powerful. Perceive every hungry child, violent criminal, rich celebrity, polluted river, and tropical island just as if they were a dream and you were seeing every character, setting, and plot twist.

The mythologist Joseph Campbell once said that what we call reality comprises only those myths and stories we haven’t quite seen through yet. Once we do so, we understand that they’re just fairy tales. We come to this realization by seeing through the eyes of hummingbird. This is why I found it so easy to be an anthropologist—I could arrive at a village in the upper reaches of the Amazon and be the only one who saw that the emperor has no clothes (in some of the villages I visited, that was literally the case).

We’re able to see the dream or nightmare that others are trapped in so much more easily than our own. We quickly perceive that our friend is creating his own misery, but we still facepaintwall98.jpgthink that our own grief is the result of some tragedy that befell us. But when we discover that reality is really a dream, we can wake up from the collective nightmare, and what was hidden before becomes ridiculously apparent… .”

On November 6th I do hope that we wake up from this collective nightmare by going to the voting booths and intentionally changing the direction that this country is presently headed.

I hope we finally wake up to the deceptions and distractions so carefully created to fool the masses—but also knowing full well that those masses are fooled only if they wish to be so.

Our life’s direction is an intentional creation by each of us. We choose to believe what we do.

We choose to agree and to support those who spew rhetorical hatred and bigotry used against our neighbors and against those who might differ from us in some way, even though we all simply want a safe and promising life for ourselves and for our families.

democracy voting people.jpgOn November 6th I truly hope that we create a better reality that finally clears away the crumbling façade from “the myths and stories we haven’t quite seen through yet.”

I also hope that November 7th is the start of a new day and a new direction for our nation.

Please vote November 6th to save our democracy while we still can save it; and please vote to save ourselves from this constant, flagrant hatred and bigotry demonstrated daily by those in the highest positions of government who are shirking their duties to all of us as American citizens by remaining silent and allowing the racism and hate speech to continue.

Please see through the lies and distractions, and stand strongly for fairness and equality again. Stand up again for the nation that we once were, where citizens believed that everyone should have the right to liberty and to basic human dignity.

Grab your family and friends and VOTE November 6th—and please help to save us from our lesser natures.voteisvoice5.jpg

 

Dreaming with Our Eyes Wide Open

I’ve mentioned previously that I am a fan of Alberto Villoldo, and over the years I’ve alberto987.jpgappreciated his psychological insights into human nature and his identifying the archetypal patterns we follow in the natural world around us. I also receive his weekly newsletter from The Four Winds Society that he founded (https://thefourwinds.com); and while this partial quote was from a July 2018 email, I kept it because there was importance in properly assessing those three common personal delusions afflicting nearly all of us.

heartshamanbookalberto87.jpg“Releasing in a few short days is my newest book,  The Heart of the Shaman: Stories and Practices of the Luminous Warrior, where I discuss the three common dreams we turn into nightmares.

I share these with you because transforming them is foundational to finding your sacred dream. They are the daydreams we are so convinced are true and cannot seem to wake up from.

Yet, to dream with your eyes open, you must enact your courage to face each of these head on:

  • The dream of security
  • The dream of permanence
  • The dream of love that is unconditional

When you transform these dreams─when you accept that life is ever changing, that your mortality is a given, and that no one can liberate you from a life of fear and insecurity except yourself─the chaos in your life turns to order and beauty prevails.

When you find your sacred dream, the creative power of the universe (known by the shamans as the Primordial Light) becomes available to you to create beauty in the world, and to heal yourself and others.”   —Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

***

How many of us once believed in those concepts of security, permanence, and relationship love that is unconditional?

As Alberto states above, “They are the daydreams we are so convinced are true and cannot seem to wake up from.”

I think time and age bursts many delusional bubbles, but the daydreamer673trick is to allow our senses to effectively clear without depressing our life spirit, which means we must learn to view life in general less romantically and more realistically.

Ideal states are those levels of human attainment that we may indeed strive toward, but facing the reason for WHY we feel the need to bolster our delusions of an idyllic existence against what actually transpires in our lives, is to confront our deepest fears head on.

When you transform these dreams (of security, permanence, and relationship love that is unconditional)─when you accept that life is ever changing, that your mortality is a given, and that no one can liberate you from a life of fear and insecurity except yourself─the chaos in your life turns to order and beauty prevails.”

I mean, who doesn’t want to feel safe? After all these natural and man-made disasters around the globe, there are so many people in the world right now that would wish for this day-dream of security above all the others.

Who doesn’t want to feel a sense of permanence in their lives—for themselves and for the people they love the most?  It is a truth we can’t deny: people we love do die. We ourselves often face life-threatening illnesses and injuries that can lead to our personal demise. With one natural disaster, life can chew us up and spit us out seemingly at whim because we are mortal beings with limited shelf-life and we don’t last forever in physical form.

Who doesn’t want to personally know and feel unconditional love in their life? Who unconditionallove623doesn’t want to be accepted and appreciated for simply being ourselves, even with all our flaws and warts?  How many relationships are built on this brand of unconditional love? I’m guessing not many because it is hard to give unconditional love to others, let alone expect to receive it from them as well.

Life is hard. Love is hard. Experientially we learn so much by living in a chaotic world, but those lessons are based on successfully surviving with our sanity and our person in tack. That means we need to be well equipped to handle the world we actually must live in rather than the ideal world we once imagined to exist around us.

That also means we must face each day with courage and determination to make it the best possible day for ourselves and for those we love because there are no assurances that it will be as such.

Yes, we can still day-dream for a better existence and actually work toward that life for ourselves and for others around us, but first we must accept the situation realistically for exactly what it presently is THEN make the decision to do our best despite the adversity that we may face in the process.

“When you transform these dreams─when you accept that life is ever changing, that your mortality is a given, and that no one can liberate you from a life of fear and lifefearend34.jpginsecurity except yourself─the chaos in your life turns to order and beauty prevails.”

Yes, it is possible to create the life you desire. Yes, it is possible to surround yourself with loving companions. But we need to do so intentionally and with directed effort to create a better world for ourselves and for each other.

We must live with courage. Live with compassion. Live with eyes wide-open to all the chaos around you, and instead choose your path forward with grace and determination to make it a better place for yourself and for all of us. That is how you “create beauty in the world and to heal yourself and others.”

Live intentionally and in full awareness of your responsibility to bettering life itself. Don’t just expect it to happen.

You have to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Then you don’t just survive your life’s ordeals—you learn how to thrive in spite of them. That’s when “the chaos in your life turns to order and beauty prevails.”

Living fearlessly in the face of adversity, is when you really learn to live.

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The Immeasurable ALLNESS in Everything

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This title came to me while I was lying in bed last night. Too lazy to get back up and write it down before I forgot it, I thought, Good luck remembering that one by morning, but it actually stuck around to be posted now.

What does that even mean: the immeasurable ALLNESS in everything? What is my High Self trying to help me understand?

What I really wanted to write about was the gender-polarity of the views over the Kavanaugh hearings. Even today on Facebook, I see the posts by outraged women countered by a few male comments below them saying basically “What’s the big deal? He’s qualified. Get over it!”

Well as a woman, I can honestly say that this situation/subject matter handling isn’t something you “get over” as much as you work through it to come out the other side—maybe a bit battered and bruised in the process, but alive and resolved to never let it happen to you again. THAT’S the BIG DEAL.

For US as women, this is just the latest character-building material that defines us either as a malefemalebrains35brain.jpgsuccessful survivor of malicious male intentions or as a helpless victim of them.  For those who erroneously believe the political/righteous battle is now over, I am amazed at your naiveté.  It has only begun—renewed by such flagrant dismissal of women’s attempts to get those in power to listen to us and take our claims seriously. Once again, we’ve been underestimated, but that is our true advantage in this situation with the midterms only a month away. Our VOTE is powerful—individually and as a group block.

And even in stating that, at the same time I see Higher Intention’s influence in this overall scenario of Trump’s ascendance to power with the flagrantly-hailed patriarchal mind-set of women as easily-dismissed, inconsequential objects of a male dominated world that through some weird quirk of fate (or Spirit’s perverse sense of humor), he presently rules.

So where is the “immeasurable ALLNESS” in this?

The ALLNESS is in the process itself: adversity drives resistance, and resistance drives change. Polarity exists to provide movement and counter movement to progress our conscious awareness.

The progression of conscious awareness drives higher thought and human behavioral adaptation to expanded ways of thinking.

The “immeasurable ALLNESS” in this situation means that as a human species, we are continually testing ourselves and our latent abilities to recognize our human sameness, rather than our gender differences.

2ndmouthtape43.jpgThe ascendance of Trump meant that the “King of All Shadows” is fully exposing how easily personal perversion and greed affects collective social behavior—human desires—human weaknesses—human motivations.

We’re being schooled in how divisiveness and fear can control the masses—IF WE ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN!

The real question is: Are we going to accept the challenge and make the much needed change in political leadership that drives our nation forward, rather than let them pull us further backward?

I hope so.   I VOTE to move forward with positive changes for ourselves and for our nation.

VOTE in November—it really does represent “the immeasurable ALLNESS in everything” that we hold dear.

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