Beginner's Mind

Life is transformation. Everything and everyone is connected in a web of life where the primary imperative is clear and inescapable: learn and evolve to survive. To meet this transformational imperative, we must continue to reinvent ourselves. To do this, we begin again and again, revisiting our intention and our beliefs, and recommitting to our practice.

In Zen, there is this concept of beginner's mind. Shunryu Susuki—also known as Susuki Roshi and the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, wrote a book called Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. In this book, Suzuki talks about this idea of beginner's mind. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few” (Susuki, 1970, p21).

Beginner's mind is a way of being, something we can practice to be more like every day. Every moment of life is an opportunity for practice. Essentially, beginner's mind is a way of being in the present moment without preconceived ideas or judgements, seeing only what is there. For example, to see an old friend today without perceptions of him or her from past experiences, to see them as they are in this present moment.

“The practice of Zen is beginner’s mind, the innocence of first inquiry. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities” (Susuki, 1970, p.13).

If our mind is clear, it is always ready and open to anything. To practice Zen is to live each moment with beginner's mind, innocent and open, curious, seeing just what is there. It is a practice that allows us to separate from what we think we know, to detach from the baggage of our past journeys, to let go of our stories about people, to see people anew, to look again and see who is there.

Look again. See for the first time. Begin again.

The End