When we sit and settle our body and begin to explore that unique space that opens up when we close our eyes:
–the tactile dimension of pure body sensations,
–the sonic realm of sounds arising and passing in the tropical coolness of early evening or morning,
–and the mental landscape of memories and chatter …
Can we just be present with life just as it is in this moment?
This settling, opening and letting be reveals our essential innocence. An innocence of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and opinions.
Suzuki Roshi called this “beginner’s mind” — “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
To sit with beginner’s mind is just to observe, explore, and take in things as they are.
I remember when our kids were much younger: the simple curiosity and fascination they had with things we adults take for granted.
Sitting in his car seat one day our son posed that one word question many parents hear dozens of times a day — “why?” A simple question that arose in his mind as we discussed needing to get to the ATM, or the gas station.
Meditation is about the posing of a four year old’s simple open ended question; but in this case, we let go of the need, the compulsion, for an answer, and just rest in the asking.
In this resting we relax into the curiosity and wonder of a child.
Meditation is an invitation to regard all aspects of our lives with beginner’s mind.
Can we live our lives this way?
We have a hard time doing this, to be sure.
We have acquired habits of fixing, holding and controlling life. We all want to know and have the power we think comes from knowing.
In meditation we allow ourselves to be intimate with ourselves in the moment of wonderment and curiosity that follows a simple question.
Meditation reveals how many fixed ideas and opinions we have. How much judgment, expectation, and preconception we carry around with us all the time.
There is old Zen story that I like very much. A monk comes to the monastery of the master Zhao Zhou and asks for teaching.
The master asks him, “Have you had your breakfast?” The monk says that he has. “Then wash your bowls,” is the teacher’s reply, and the only instruction he offers.
Zhao Zhou wants to bring the monk down to the immediate present moment, as if saying “Don’t look for some profound metaphysical or yogic instructions here. Be present to this moment.”
But we seem to be looking for something other than what’s right here in this moment.
This moment is often seen as a barrier to overcome so that we can at some later moment get whatever it is we thought we were looking for when we got into this meditation stuff.
But at some point it begins to dawn on us that there is no other moment.
Then everything becomes very simple.
We sit with awareness of the body, or the breath. We let thought and feeling come up but we don’t make a big deal out of anything.
We let whatever comes up to come up naturally, without resistance. We appreciate it, and we let it go. We don’t get tangled up in a web of complication.
As we sit this way, judgments begin to fall away. We allow ourselves to fully be who we are.
And we realize we are profoundly happy.
Katina and I are here to support your meditation practice in any way we can, just contact us through the Contact Page on this site. Or if you live in Honolulu, or ever visit, feel free to drop by our free, weekly meditation evenings.