This week: Beginner's Mind and Letting GoEdited by: Sophyween
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Hi, I'm Sophyween ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
Beginner's Mind and Letting Go
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki - Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
There are seven principles associated with Zen Buddhist mindfulness. Two of them that are especially helpful in 2020 are:
Letting Go: Freeing ourselves of expectations and entitlement, and
Beginner’s Mind: Approaching circumstances with curiosity and creativity, setting aside preconceptions, prejudice and bias.
Maybe you can sense the relationship between those concepts. In order to be creative - to engage a beginner’s mind - we need to get beyond habitual ways we think about things. We need to move out of our comfort zones, get past our expectations and sense of entitlement. Going forward this week, see if you can notice when your mind shifts into that habitual gear when something doesn’t fall easily into place. Say you’re driving to an appointment and there’s construction on the route you expected to take. Our first response is to feel frustration and resistance, to take it personally. “Why do they always do this when I’m trying to get somewhere?” It can be difficult to let go of our expectation of an easy, convenient commute and start thinking about an alternate route in that moment of frustration, but chances are that our best option is to give up on the directions we were planning to use and be creative.
Back in the 90’s there was an advertising campaign for a company called Andersen Consulting. One of my favorite spots opened on a quartet of musicians playing a beautiful piece of classical music. After a moment, from off camera a basketball bounces into the scene and lands the opening of the tuba. The musicians look at each other for a moment with puzzled expressions, then set down their instruments and begin to pass the basketball back and forth, simply at first - then with more and more creativity progressing to the point where they look like the Harlem Globetrotters’ “magic circle.” It’s an example of approaching a new situation – a new challenge, a new opportunity - with a beginner’s mind.
The current global pandemic has offered many opportunities for“letting go” and “beginner’s mind.” We certainly feel disappointed that we can’t gather in person as we normally would for things like worship, school, holiday dinners, movies, sporting events, etc. So we find other ways to be in community with friends and loved ones and spiritual communities. My congregation has been meeting online since March, and while not our first choice, it keeps everyone safe, we are still able to gather together, and we now plan on continuing some sort of online presence after the risks of COVID-19 are minimized or disappear, as people who live far away are now able to join us. We celebrate family birthdays on ZOOM, something we hadn't done before even though my family lives hundreds of miles away from each other. We will do the same for Christmas.
Our local theater companies have been shut down since March, without their usual Spring and Summer productions. They have been innovative during the past few months, offering "porch plays" at homes, and on October 30 they will offer a radio production of "War of the Worlds" on a local station. Our Fall "Cemetery Walk" is now virtual instead of in person, which opens it up to many more people to experience. The list of innovative ideas goes on and on.
Maybe some examples have occurred to you of things you’ve had to let go of in 2020. Maybe you’ve found your own ways to be creative and pursue possibilities with a beginners mind that might not have occurred to you but for the challenges that have come our way. Share them with me and I'll post them in my next newsletter.
Below you'll find some spiritual offerings from other WDC members. Please let the folks know if you read their piece by leaving a thoughtful comment or review. If you have something you would like me to highlight, please do share it with me, thanks!
A few from some newbies:
And a few others from around the site:
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A response from my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (September 16, 2020)" about "Days of Awe:"
From Mia - in motion
As I read your reflection of the ‘Days of Awe’ I am in awe.
You have a beautiful way of bringing practical meaning to elusive religious rituals and celebrations. There are many thoughts in this piece that speak to me. One that is particularly fitting at this time is:
‘We can say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new’.
For over the past two years, Sam and I have imagined moving to the west coast. And had thought we’d have been there before now. Yet due to multiple circumstances, the timing was not our own but, now looking back, orchestrated by a power far beyond our own.
When I read the above quote to Sam, and told him the Days of Awe begin on the 18th, his response was: “We are dropping off the keys to our place that day”.
It’s the day we release the last link with our home of ten years, and prepare to move on.
Thank you for another meaningful reflection. I look forward to your monthly editorials.
Wow, thank you so much for your kind words, and best wishes on your new adventure out west!
Please keep your comments and suggestions coming! Until next time! Sophyween
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