The Ponder Effect | How do we cultivate the beginner’s mind?
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How do we cultivate the beginner’s mind?

And what does that even mean? Zen Buddhists refer to the beginner’s mind as shoshin: a state of absolute wonder, curiosity, and openness. Jesus seems to value the beginner’s mind, too. He famously told his disciples that unless they became “like little children” they would never “enter the kingdom of heaven.” The way to God, it seems, is through the beginner’s mind. Why? Because we all think we know so much, and when we know so much, what need do we have of God anyway?

Lots. We have lots of need for God anyway. So, if we agree that the beginner’s mind is of value to us in getting closer to God and in helping us bask in the glory of this thing we all have called life, how do we cultivate it?

This question has a bunch of spin-offs that we can build on in future weeks, but for now, let’s just share with one another the myriad ways that we as individuals try to cultivate the beginner’s mind. Meditate? Journal? Take a different route to the grocery every few days? Read? Take art classes? What are the things that help you behold the world afresh each new day, especially now at the start of spring when nature itself seems to be in a state of shoshin?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

4 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    March 13, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I had a couple of recent experiences that make me think the easiest, quickest way to return to the beginner’s mind is to spend time with young children. I was driving our 4 year old granddaughter to school last week and we passed a tulip poplar tree in full gorgeous purple and white bloom. I said “Look at that beautiful tree.” From the back seat I heard her say “It’s a miracle.” I had to ask her to repeat what she had said because it was so stunningly perfect. So simply perfect. The tulip poplar was a miracle! As was every other flowering tree or bush we passed. All miracles. I will forever more think “it’s a miracle!” every time I see one of nature’s gifts.
    Just yesterday I was sitting beside a 12 year old girl on a flight. She was seated next to the window. As we took off she exclaimed excitedly that she had never seen so many houses. Then she pulled out her phone and took picture after picture of the clouds, exclaiming how beautiful they were, that they looked like mountains, that they looked like cotton candy, that she wished she could jump on them. She read all the emergency pamphlet. We discussed the barf bag and what other ways you could use it. We talked about how cool it would be to fly through rain and into the sunshine above. She was curious and wide eyed about it all. We were looking at the same things but she saw far more than I did. I realized I had lost my curiosity. And I wasn’t even really looking around.
    Curiosity has to be one way to get back to the beginner’s mind. Also, I think, taking time to stop and just look. Really look. What do we see? A pink sunset. A full moon. A green field. The color of a butterfly. The ripples on a river. The one(s) we love. Perhaps we can “reset” ourselves. Get out of ourselves.. Look around ourselves with curiosity and intention and begin to see again. However I have no idea how to sustain that or if it is even possible.

  • Anonymous

    March 14, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Question, question, question. Not in the spirit of resentment but rather with an attitude of wonderment and curiosity.

  • Anonymous

    March 14, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    All I know is we can’t be in a hurry if we want the beginner’s mind, and it seems that I am always in a hurry. So, I guess, my thought is — we have to S-L-O-W way D-O-W-N. Maybe even just in little pockets of our day.

  • Anonymous

    March 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    We have to start by putting down our screens.