Cultivating the Beginners Mind
Phil Spohn   -  

We get the idea of “The Beginner’s Mind” from Zen Buddhism, which maintains that many of our preconceived notions and judgements can be overcome if we cultivate the “Beginner’s Mind”.  A beginners mind could be very helpful when listening to a spouse or coworker.  Instead of thinking, “I’ve heard this before”, you have a beginners mind and work to listen and understand as if it was the first time.  You suspend judgment and seek to understand.

 

This is how Jesus spoke about the Beginner’s Mind, Luke 18:16 (NRSV)

Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

 

Jesus was all about the Kingdom of God.  “Thy kingdom come thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven”.  Jesus was about bringing about God’s Kingdom here on earth.  Call it Kingdom of God, Buddha called it Nirvana, some call it utopia….Jesus’ point is that it takes the mind of a child to conceive it.  It takes a mind that is open and willing to learn.  Adult minds have things figured out.  We judge, categorize, and put things into boxes.  A child’s mind is fluid and malleable.

 

One of my frustrations with Christianity is that it is great at diagnosing, but its corrective prescriptions are lacking.  How do you cultivate the Beginners Mind?  Were you taught about the importance of the Beginners Mind in Sunday School?  Maybe it was in Confirmation?  We have within our ancient tradition gifts to help cultivate this beginners mind.  Unfortunately, western Christianity has developed diagnostic tools but have not helped us transform our lives in practical ways…until recently.

 

Meditation is catching on.  We are returning to contemplative prayer, silence, spiritual direction….I envision that the Western Christian Church of the future will be a spiritual wellness campus, helping people live and develop their spiritually through ancient practices that have been rediscovered.  We are physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual beings!  Our whole body, hearts and mind living in harmony as we journey through life.

 

This is conscious, intentional, living.  No longer on autopilot, no longer jumping through the hoops, no longer settling for the white picket fence, 2.1 kids, and a college education.

 

The best ancient practice that I have discovered over the past few years centers on silence and contemplation.  When I practice this in the morning, the effects carry me all day.  Patience, listening and not reacting, compassion, the beginners mind, and living in the moment are byproducts that these simple mind control practices develop.

 

I use Insight Timer App.  I have the paid subscription but the free version worked fine for a few years.  Now I am taking more classes in mediation, Lectio Divina, and centering prayer.  I commend some type of practice to you.  Christianity might diagnose the problems in our world and life, Insight timer helps transform my heart and mind.

 

We can all grow our Beginners Mind!  It’s a beautiful thing to see people and the world with wonder, questions, and marvel at its newness.  Cultivate The Beginners Mind!