Not one single idea covers all concepts. We cannot formularise life. But, our minds tend to think this way—that there is an approach that works in every circumstance. The reality is, however, God has created life according to his thinking and not ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
One proof of this: the moment we are close to nailing a central and specific idea regarding life, pride enters us, and a sharp barb of legalism protrudes from within us and becomes known to others. To retain the humility of openness is key.
Knowledge Shrinks Wonder
Knowledge shrinks wonder; where we think we have something ‘sorted’, there begins the many contradictions which go to prove us wrong. It’s as if God created life this way to keep us grounded and reliant, alone, on him.
Whenever we have arrived at set ideas for living, thinking, and behaving—beyond the virtuous itself—we become, as they say, set in our ways. This is no destination of godliness or virtue. It is the destination of blindness, of shallowness, of real unabashed ignorance.
The more we think we know the more we show we won’t know—because we are closed to new knowledge. With much knowledge our curiosity for wonder diminishes, unless we enter deliberately into humble mindfulness.
Nurturing the Beginner’s Mind
It would be better to remind ourselves regularly, or become reminded, of the simple and complex wonders of life. We can see them as both simple and complex, for they are both—and all between. They look simple to us but the science tells us they are complex. God wants us to enjoy their simplicity, and also to comprehend their complexity.
Shunryu Suzuki referred to what I’m writing about as “the beginner’s mind.” To approach life in openness is to live in the humility of the beginner’s mind.
If we understand anything at all about our attachment as children, we will know that many of us have a need to cling to our ideas—our personally relevant truths.
Entertaining the possibility of new ‘truths’ is a freedom sponsored, as an activity of mindfulness, by God. And so long as we are open to, and are learning, these truths, the essential kernels of truth emerge, and we are blessed—presumably. The blessings of open-mindedness are those enshrined in humility—the paradoxical nobility of knowing one’s place in life, under God.
Open-mindedness, within the safe bounds of truth, is the blessing of humility. Humility insists on nothing against anybody. With humility we discern truth. Through openness we promote humility.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.