Can we look at all the aspects of our lives with this mind, just open to see what there is to see? I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time doing that. I have a lot of habits of mind – I think most of us do. Children begin to lose that innocent quality after a while, and soon they want to be “the one who knows.” We all want to be the one who knows. But if we decide we “know” something, we are not open to other possibilities anymore. And that’s a shame. We lose something very vital in our life when it’s more important to us to be “one who knows” than it is to be awake to what’s happening. We get disappointed because we expect one thing, and it doesn’t happen quite like that. The very nature of beginner’s mind is not knowing in a certain way, not being an expert. As Suzuki Roshi said in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts there are few.” As an expert, you’ve already got it figured out, so you don’t need to pay attention to what’s happening. Pity.
How can we cultivate this mind that is free to just be awake? In just sitting, in sitting and noticing the busyness of our mind and all of the fixed views that we carry. Once we notice the fixed views that we are carrying around with us, the preconceptions that we are carrying around with us, then it is possible for us to let them go and say, “Well, maybe so, maybe not.” Suzuki Roshi once said, “The essence of Zen is ‘Not Always So’. “Not always so.” It’s a good little phrase to carry around when you’re sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation.
Blanche Hartman, Lecture on Beginners Mind