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Shoshin: Beginner’s Mind

Humans are creators. We create each moment.

How one views the moment along with our capabilities, determines what is created.

A creation is a configuration of time. We work with time as a medium.

Our primary tool for being creative is Zazen. 

“The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.”


“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.”

Some time ago I was giving a talk at a management retreat on the topic of creativity. The audience was primarily made-up of college professors and administrators. In the round-robin of questions that followed, the phrase “Thinking Outside The Box” was offered. By then the saying had become a retail-item, an off the shelf-filler of a response to throw into a conversation. The term had lost its creative spark. I suggested we had to…”Get Outside The Thinking.” 

Shoshin is willing to be wrong, intertwined with the curiosity to explore what we mean by that. It is an openness to riff. When we become awake, mindful, we experience our senses more fully; including our mindwork. We sense thinking as interpretative of experience, or recall, or anticipation of something long past, or maybe possible in the future. 

Shunryu  Suzuki’s Zen Mind Beginner's Mind has been a Dharma- spreader. Published in 1970, it along with Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen, opened a floodgate on everyday Zen. Here from Suzuki-roshi:

“When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind;

 you should be concentrated on what you do. 

You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. 

You should not be a smoky fire. 

You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do.”

One perspective on shoshin is to begin with a metaphorically shifting mind referred to as awakening (budh). It is seeing hindrances , we are awake to their existence, one becomes more liberated to experience interrelatedness and wholeness of moment. The Three Laws and Four Noble Truths tend to “make sense,” to us.

Then, as we breathe in and out, moments arising and transforming, we maintain awareness and connect rather than attach in that  the connection has as decoupling built in so we don’t get stuck or overly attached. The moment is pliable-subtle. Not forecasting, we are not demanding preconceptions become real, rather we allow the moment with its condition and variables, to unfold. 

Shoshin is like breathing in after a long exhale. The rising potential offered by the new breath is energy for new experiences–Shoshin is meeting Sunyata. Moving thus we are Bodhisattvas…

Please join us Tuesday night, March 5, at 7:00 PM/ET at The First Congregational Church, On The Green in Falmouth. Or on Zoom at

Palms together


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