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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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

buddhaunderbodhitree69.jpg

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.

foster_bodhi_leaves.jpg

 

The Body of LIGHT

albertolightbody67.jpgI can’t recall how long I have known this to be a fact—that we are light-beings—and that we are far more energy than mass.

But then, time doesn’t really matter in this consideration because time is relative, as are we to some extent—relative to the dimension that we inhabit.

When I first explored the energy practices of Usui REIKI and Karuna REIKI, I quickly realized that there was more to me than I had first assumed.  Energy flowed through me and from me. Energy enveloped me.

But I wasn’t just a conduit of extraneous energy flow—I AM energy itself and I perpetually swim in an ocean of energy.

I AM (as YOU are) a sum of electro-magnetic lightwave-frequencies that can shift higher or lower at will—MY will.  For the most part, I can consciously control my own energy frequency.

In fact I constantly HUM with that energy universefractal.jpgfrequency.  It’s a high-pitched whine that stops suddenly when “something” interrupts/invades the boundaries of my energy field.

I even have an energy signature that is specific to me alone; and my energy signature affects the overall energy matrix around me in which I vibrate.

That energy signature vibration attracts sympathetic vibrations to me to resonate in harmony with my own energy-body frequency, or it repels those energy frequencies that cannot coexist with my own energy in my immediate surroundings.

If my personally-held frequency is high enough, I can raise the matrix surroundings to match my own frequency.  I can act like that fractal repeating multiple examples of its own pattern in all directions.

But if my surroundings are so low in frequency that I cannot raise them, then they can adversely affect (lower) my personal energy frequency to make me uncomfortable in that situation or possibly steal energy from me and make me sick.

This is why it is SO important to be able to hold the highest possible personal energy-frequency—we need to be able to support our own best growth opportunities, and be able to defend ourselves from lesser frequencies that may cross our paths.

lightdarkcandle.jpgPeople often talk about terms like ‘light’ vs. ‘darkness’ like they are moral judgments.  It’s not that simple.

I’m telling you those terms are simply misnomers for higher or lower frequencies that can positively or negatively affect us and our surroundings.

Higher frequencies are those most associated with love and compassion vibes. While lower frequencies are associated with hatred and fear energies.  True, hatred and fear are powerful emotions that can lead to violent actions and reactions.

But love—altruistic, unconditional love—is a frequency that can sooth the most savage among us. It is a very high lightwave frequency—and it’s very powerful, but in a completely different way from the energies of rage and violence.

Love can be life-affirming—life-appreciating. It is soothing and feels harmonious. We feel at peace with ourselves in this vibration.

Hate/fear can be life-disrupting—life-destroying. It feels skin-crawling and uncomfortable. It is the seventh-chord searching for harmonious resolution back to base. We feel disconnected and destabilized. We feel the need to strike out or release the pent up frustration that threatens to overwhelm us.  There is NO peace in this state of being. No violent action ever feels truly satisfying and final. Violence simply perpetuates itself.

Here’s the main difference between high frequencies everything_is_energy_quote.jpgand lower frequencies: Do you want to live your life in the frequencies of love and feeling at peace, or in the frequencies of hatred and feeling constantly fearful and distrusting?

My suggestion for the best possible life is to try and surround yourself with higher-frequency, natural surroundings to hold your own frequency as high as possible for you.  Then hang with higher-frequency friends who don’t need to steal your energy because they can generate plenty high-frequency energy on their own.  You’ll experience lots of happiness and laughter with those friends.  You’ll want to be around them again.

And if you can keep your own frequencies high as well, they in turn will want to be around you again also.

Funny how that works.

 

The VICTIM or the WORLD

“So the question is fundamentally, do you define yourself as a victim of the world, or the world?”  – Alan Watts watts meaing oflife56.jpg

Here in this short video narrated by Alan Watts,  he asks “What does it mean to spiritually awaken?”

video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7blUYJm6i-c

“So then, here’s the drama. My metaphysics, let me be perfectly frank with you, are that there is the central Self, you could call it God you could call it anything you like. And it’s all of us. It’s playing all the parts of all beings whatsoever everywhere and anywhere. And it’s playing the game of hide and seek with itself. It gets lost, it gets involved in the farthest out adventures but in the end it always wakes up, and comes back to itself. And when you’re ready to wake up, you’re gonna wake up. And if you’re not ready, you’re gonna stay pretending that you’re poor little me.”   – Alan Watts

Alan Watts is always interesting to hear; and his take on enlightenment is more direct and sometimes more cutting than the often gentle approaches of Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra.  But Watts is usually pretty clear and concise in his talks.

watts univers quote.jpgHe gets to the point quickly, but with more ‘attitude,’ I guess you could call it, than the others. (Some might call it an ‘entertainer’s ego’. Others might say he simply loved to poke fun at others who claimed to be “enlightened,” as well as poking fun at himself for his “polished spokesmanship” on the many subjects that he discussed.)

His online biography is interesting and quite colorful. He died in 1973 at the age of 58, but his influence lives on in all the YouTube videos that are broadly shared throughout social media. He has presently entered a resurgence of popularity for his sharp frankness and critique of religious institutions in general.

His second video listed here is called “How to Wake Up”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAQ4FuKlY9g

I personally find it helpful to sample all the flavors of enlightenment that others offer to us. Perhaps our own personalities respond best to one over the others.

To me as an energy worker, the feel of listening to Watts is not as peace-inducing as Tolle’s more soft and gentle approach.  Watts affect is more like stepping naked onto the shower floor and then turning on the water—where the first blast sprayed from the showerhead is cold and shocking before the warmer water rises through the pipes.

But in the 1960’s and 70’s—during the rise of the ‘Flower Children,’ he was the man to hear.

alanwattsoceanquote56.jpg

Explaining the Divine Purpose of the Universe

tolleexplaining68.jpg

Well now, THERE’s a subject to consider!

Here are a few quick notes from Eckhart Tolle’s explanation from the question he was asked on this subject.

(Here also is the actual video of Eckhart Tolle giving his explanation for the Divine Purpose of the Universe:  https://www.eckharttollenow.com/new-home-video/default.aspx?free=/594579485/ )

“The Universe wants to awaken consciousness (in general) coming into this dimension.  ..But the Divine Purpose is two-fold:  One, is the Universe delights in creation, …creativity, …creating new forms….  It delights in experiencing itself THROUGH those forms.  …ONE life expressing itself through countless life forms…

TWO, the Universe also wants to know its own source…it wants ‘source-realization’. … There is an outgoing movement into creation, but there is a return movement where it wants to realize itself, and its essence through YOU.  The Universe wants both.    …

The return movement expresses as coming totally into the present moment, stepping away from becoming, into BEING.

BECOMING is the outward movement, … BEING is the return, the BE STILL and BE in this present moment and go deeply into just BEING.  …divinepurposeunitolle56

For us (as humans living in this dimension), it means finding balance between the two.

 

For outward movement, create not from a place of Egoic need, … create from a playful participation in the world of form without losing oneself in the creation or the DOING aspect.

There are those who simply hold the frequency of the planet. (He calls them) ‘frequency-holders’ … they are more into BEING, than DOING.

There are those who are more into creation and DOING, but they must maintain their playfulness (to do so without ego fixation).

So the Divine Purpose of the Universe is to know itself, both through the creation of form and the realization of the formless essence (the Source itself). …And YOU are here as part of that (process).”

***

This makes perfect sense to me because I’ve been on both paths: Earlier in my life I was creating the activities that help to shift energetic frequency, and I am now simply HOLDING the energetic frequency as high as I possibly can.  I was once a Do-er, and now I am more of a BE-er.

And that’s okay with me, which is quite a flip for a once Type-A,  DO-er.

youniver687.jpg

Our Own Version of Reality

I’ve previously mentioned that I’ve had training in many energy-work modalities: Usui and Karuna REIKI, Hypnotism, Multi-dimensional work, and Shamanic apprenticing from teachers of the Peruvian lineage.wesselmanquote6.png

I’m a big fan of Alberto Villoldo, an early reader of Carlos Castaneda’s entire collection, and the shamanic influence list goes on to include Sandra Ingerman, Michael Harner, Jose Luis Stevens, Jose Ruiz, Betsy Bergstrom, and many others including Hank Wessleman mentioned in the image quote.

When I say that reality is not what we often think that it is—solid, unchanging, finite, and dependable—I mean I’ve personally seen for myself that it isn’t.  Been there—done that—NOT fun!

When I talk about shifting dimensions of existence and personally witnessing the visual environment around me change, including the energy-frequency level changes, I do so NOT with “authority,” but with complete humility.  If you could see what the possibilities are out there beyond your own little myopic bubble of reality, it could shock you into cataleptic silence.   And to some, I believe that is exactly what has happened. Touring these other dimensions can be a fantasy-land for exploration or it can be a never-ending nightmare blocking your return to consensus reality.

Give it a few more decades, and I think mental health professionals will have a completely different perspective on what their clients are experiencing from a much shamnismglobalsumm64.jpgbroader consideration of what “reality” entails and encompasses.

I also believe that shamanic work is not for the faint of heart; and to those folks whose natural-born receptors were tuned to accessing the energy frequencies of those other multi-realms (mediums, psychics, schizophrenics, …to name a few), it can be hard to decipher what is REAL and commonly shared by others, and what is more unique to your own perspective and abilities.  Determining where your personal boundaries end and something else’s begins, is often not as easy as it might seem.

During shamanic therapy sessions, you the practitioner, often work with “helper” beings (Angels/Arch Angels, Spirit Animals, Spirit Helpers) to safely journey through other realms, or gather Akashic records information, or retrieve lost soul parts for a client; so deciphering whose voice you are hearing when you close your eyes and determining the intention behind spiritanimalshamanism4.jpgthe “advice” that voice offers to you, can be a learning process in itself.  Visuals aren’t always trustworthy. One thing you learn early in shamanic work is that “Things are seldom what they seem to be” and TRUST with your Spirit Helpers, is earned in time.

I view the Wesselman quote above as mild in the “What’s out there?” considerations, and it can be easily applicable to most psychological assessments of how people live their lives: We see what we want to see. We believe what we want to believe. When we decide that reality operates one particular way and exclude other possibilities, we limit ourselves to constantly substantiating our set beliefs—we thought-loop how we view life in general to expect more of the same for us from one minute to the next.

Many times we create and substantiate our reality bubble around us to shield us or protect us from other possible “realities” that do not match our own view.  We are physiologically/energetically designed to hold our own version of reality unless our energy fields are damaged allowing “other things” to access us and affect us. This can include the physical body’s problem with invading viruses or bacteria, or it can include the energy body’s leakage points or chakra/auric field damage.

I could go on and on here, but overall for this posting I simply want to emphasize that what we call REALITY is a consensus view—a mutually beneficial agreement by masses of people pertaining to the playing field on which we all operate.  For that mutual, consensus agreement, we as a unified group in this plane of existence, conclude that reality is substantial and unchanging. realitycacethought.jpg

Except it isn’t.  It is very changeable.

It is changeable because we can create our own realities. But you have to believe that you can do so, to actually DO it.

It’s all a matter of belief.  Ask any theologian the historical importance of that statement.

 

 

The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.