Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Impeccability of Emptiness

‘Beginner’s Mind’ might sound like something you want to transcend as soon as possible, by working hard to become an expert.

The term is often used in meditation and the concept certainly exists in other modalities and therapies. It might surprise you to know that it is the crucial state of mind, or being, that makes expanding consciousness so much easier.

It includes such subtle states as humility, trust, innocence and curiosity. We put aside all the concepts, teachings, reading, information and knowledge – everything we think we ‘know’. This doesn’t mean that learning and intelligence is worthless: it can take us a certain way on the Path. But knowledge has it’s limitations and is better seen as the foundation for ‘what’s next?’

Beginner’s mind opens the door to what’s next. We are encouraged to approach each practice as if for the first time: to be open, curious and willing to experience whatever comes into awareness. Simply do the practice, no matter how boring, repetitive or beneath us, our conscious minds tell us it is. Just do it and, magically, we may become the witness to something really extraordinary.

This very special state is like the deep realm of silence that existed before the universe was created. In that void before form, there is nothing and at the same time everything exists as potential. The sky’s the limit.

In Shamanic practice there are resonances with beginner’s mind in the concept of becoming a ‘hollow bone’ where we temporarily release the ego in order to become a clear channel for insights from Spirit.

hand made basket rattle 
Shamanic healers usually do this through sound. We establish reliable, ritual portals into the mystery, by tracing new neural pathways in the brain through rattling, whistling, calling, clapping, singing a power song or drumming. Shamans knew long before scientists discovered the plasticity of the brain, that these paths can become cosmic gateways.

Rituals are the tools of shamanism and they represent knowledge, learning and intelligence, but just as with the techniques of meditation, they are only the foundation. The secret of rituals is to use them with humility, innocence and freshness (beginner's mind) to help us let go of our fear.

What is this fear? These days we like to think we can create certainty by learning techniques for our practices, using knowledge & experience, then following them diligently.

We're really trying to protect ourselves from the fear of having no ‘ground under our feet’ - that slippery place where we don't know what might happen next. In fact we're just limiting the possibilities.

The work is to summon our courage and step into the vast open inner cosmos that feels so dangerous but holds such freedom.

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