"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few." This phrase was written by Shunryu Suzuki. It is in his book: "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," which describes his approach to Zen practice. It relates to having the attitude of an open mind, lack of prejudgment, a certain non-resistant grace, and a way of learning just as a novice would, even when studying at a higher level.
Letting go and letting life move through you sounds like weakness, but going through life without a fight requires more courage than kicking and screaming at every turn. Marianne Williamson writes about this in her book "A Return To Love" published in 1992. She says, "Surrender means, by definition, giving up attachment to results."
It is a choice to trust a force outside ourselves to take care of things. Whether you believe in a "Higher Power," "God," "The Universe" or none of those, is irrelevant. You can achieve a state of sweet surrender and detachment allowing you to feel more at peace and in appreciation of life.
Marianne talks in her book about the concept in Zen Buddhism called "Zen mind" or "beginner's mind." She writes, "They say that the mind should be like an empty rice bowl. If it's already full, then the Universe can't fill it. If it's empty, it has room to receive. This means that when we think we have things already figured out, we are not teachable. Genuine insight can't dawn on a mind that's not open to receive it. Surrender is the process of emptying the mind."
There is great power in humility. As Marianne says, "If we go into a situation not knowing the rules and with no expectations, we don't know yet what there to be afraid of." This releases us and leaves our minds open to all possibilities.
It is often said, "Let it go, because you can't take it with you." This is so true. What really matters is our essence, our spirit and our ability to express love. It sounds clich , but the alternative is a much more stressful and lonely experience.
Dr Wayne W. Dyer talks about detachment in his book "You'll See It When You Believe It." He has devoted an entire chapter to the concept. He states, "Thus, my detachment from needing any thing or any person in order to feel whole and complete allows me to flow and simply be in life, rather than to fight life or demand anything from anyone. Detachment is the absence of a need to hold on to anyone or anything. It does not mean not having things. It is a way of thinking and being which gives us the freedom to flow with life, as does everything that is given to us by God." Katie Davis is the author of "Awake Living Joy: A Guide to the Heart of Life." She has been a spiritual teacher since 2000. In a discussion about writing she commented, "Before I started writing, I did a lot of what I call stream writing; just sitting down to the computer and allowing the fingers to type, the words to flow. Being a writer, you really are the expert and more than that, the Being that you are will lead the way in the creation."
Katie suggests relinquishing the idea of "I" or "me" and to desist regarding ourselves as separate beings. "If we surrender this idea of 'me'," she continues, "then who is writing? If we can genuinely let go of this mind-made self, this concept of 'I' and then rest as this gentle, breathing being, we have an open window of unlimited creativity that arises from the Unknown, rather than from the mind and its past conditioning."
We so often speak of letting go of things and people. But the Truth of Being is so much more intimately close. It is not what you let go of, who you let go of, whether you can or cannot let go. The essential question is who are you speaking of? Who lets go?
In the beginning, it is the ego that surrenders the separate sense of self, the mind-made idea. By letting go in this manner, life begins breaking the ego. In the end, we discover that the ego never existed in the first place except within time and within our ideas.
So, if we are not the "me," who are we? We sort of become this instrument of the Heart and then write as it all overflows.
Katie continues, "When we don't surrender and when we don't let go, we suffer." Life is as it is anyway, no matter whether we hang on for dear life or whether we throw our arms in the air and give up. However, when we do give up (not in the negative sense, but in the purely intelligent sense) there is a huge transformation of energy so that we are now more available for genuine living.
"Not knowing" is the perfect place to be. In "not knowing" you are innocent and free. It will bring a great deal of peace of mind, learning to live this way, but it will also take a great deal of hard work to put this premise into practice.
A cartoon character said, "I have met the enemy and it is me." When I stop my natural inheritance of love, health, peace, prosperity, abundance, etc., I stop the natural flow coming to me. Why would I want to keep myself limited and out of the love I want in life? We surrender our ego and fear to live. Beyond fear is the life I always wanted. Take the risk.
Reverend Marilyn Redmond is a consultant who focuses on Therapeutic Hypnotherapy/ Holistic Counseling. She claims that if we would stop trying to control, we would find more good things flowing to us. She explains the significance of the beginner's mind: "Zen mind for me is God's mind. A beginner is just learning how to become one with God's mind, the universe." God only wants good for me. In society we are conditioned to be in fear because then we are easy to control and manipulate. So learning to release my old ideas, thoughts, words, and actions so I am cooperating with the universe is a long lifetime process of experience, by expanding energy or spirit. We live and learn through experience.
God is a process; it is life. We need to "be" in life, anything else is a charade or pretence, more like a robot progressing to the walking dead. Love is an experience which over time will fill us when we let down our walls, created for protection when young. Maturity is vulnerability for the universe to protect us. That is real strength and wholeness. The side effects bring health, abundance, etc. and gradually, we become one with God's mind.
Your mind can change whenever you choose to change it from old beliefs that are stopping the flow into oneness with your Creator. Old beliefs are the biggest obstacle to moving into a Zen Mind. It is a slow process but so worth the trip. This spiritual journey of returning to "Heaven on Earth" is possible; I enjoy times of this experience.
My beginner's mind was like Hell on Earth because I was separated from the mind of God. My Zen mind knows it has always been Heaven on Earth and I can claim it right now and live in this reality.
How does one become proficient at "going with flow" and giving up the constant need to control, especially to control how one feels? When you a have the need to feel good, the real power is to let the desire go and surrender to the moment. The Universe will release all your wishes - when you finally detach from results.
Try it one day, one hour or even one minute at a time. Just let go and "be" in your daily life. Feel your feelings, let go, shrug your shoulders and say, "I will to will Thy will."
Setting aside "worry" time, that is stressing about problems only in an allotted time frame, going for a walk, learning how to "breathe" and meditate are some good gateways to the beginner's mind.
Michael Barnett is a disciple of the Indian teacher Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho), the author of around 40 books and a spiritual coach. He sums it up...
"The meek shall inherit the earth." (Psalms 25:8)
Paula Maher (email) is an accredited graduate of Morris Journalism Academy in Perth Western Australia and is working as a freelancer.
"Top Ten Tips: How to Let Go a Little" by Alexandra Watson:
"Every thought is just a modification of the essence of thought." --Michael Barnett