Friday, February 24, 2012

Achieving the Beginner’s Mind

There may be many ways to achieve the freedom of true inner peace. Indeed, for the billions of people who live on this planet there is, perhaps, that many ways. But there is one sure way; according to the religious art of Zen it is the achievement of the beginner’s mind—the reclamation of open-mindedness:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

~Shunryu Suzuki

Achieving the beginner’s mind is a paradox. Now, what seasoned veteran wants to achieve stillness of heart and calmness of mind by admitting their humble vulnerability? But the nature of life is it’s a reversal—a paradox—whereby the insistent proud are humbled and the willing humble are exalted (Matthew 23:12).

Only the sufficiently open-minded can ever be truly content and at peace.

A Portrait Of The Beginner’s Mind

Freedom of self is the commencement of the beginner’s mind; to shelve all conscious concepts that we bring value to anything besides the clarity of a genuine opened mind.

The beginner’s mind is unencumbered by previous achievement, the standing of reputation, or respect commanded. It has no such baggage; there are no caveats. And though the world runs on credibility, the person showcasing the beginner’s mind lets their credibility stand as it will be. There is no foisting of one’s self image upon anything.

At once the beginner’s mind becomes operant upon delimitation. It requires nothing from no one, least of all itself. What is perfectly open and free must necessarily be, also, humble. The pride of offense can’t get a look in.

The beauty of the beginner’s mind is its serenity. It cannot be threatened because it doesn’t insist on having the answer; only the freedom to ask the right questions.

Advantages Of The Beginner’s Mind

When we think of any successful thinker, most successful business persons, and all good leaders, they share a common trait: they seem to have the right thing to say at the right time. They are thought of as wise. They exemplify the beginner’s mind, because their frame of reference hasn’t been limited by their sheltered experience.

The achievement of the beginner’s mind is a watershed moment, every time.

Life rewards such thinking through many types of commendation. All this because we were free to think as the moment presented itself. We presented ourselves to the moment empty-of-expectation and ready-minded. Then we noticed so many things we would have otherwise missed. Our openness enlarged our capacity; we were blessed with perspective.


The best of life is, ironically, to be the beginner; to approach everything without preconceived judgments. There is no straighter way to peace. To enter every situation devoid of our own pressure is a blessing only we, with God’s help, can achieve.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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