every moment of every day reminds me of my beginners’ mind.

beginners’ mind

J. wanted reassurance about our equality after I spent some time listening to her, sharing compassion with her, and being present during a time of intense and overwhelming sadness and loneliness. Buddhism gifted me with a well of stability and love and patience to share with the people I care about. So when I told her that finding her ground would make the external situations that frustrate her less powerful, I think she felt like I was speaking from some place far ahead of her on the path.

Perhaps, as a Buddhist, I understand at a certain level more than she does about the path of the Dharma. As a yogini, she understands far more than I do about the path of Yoga. Regardless, I am human and I still get mad or frustrated (or both) at coworkers; I still insult careless and reckless drivers; and I am still attached to the people I love. To lose J.‘s friendship, for example, would upset me tremendously, and I don’t even know if I want to change that. I’ve accepted my attachment as it is, though; I neither struggle against it (which would only make it grow stronger) nor do I encourage it to reach some unnatural level. Accepting the attachment allows it to exist without fear. Accepting it allows me to be present in our friendship rather than worry about the future. Until the very moment that our friendship is threatened, the attachment simply feels like love.

I am possessed by a dual mind on my Buddhism. On one hand, my experiences, my practice and my meditation have proven to me the truth of the Dharma. That which I have not yet experienced, I believe to be true. When I speak of the motionless ground and its strength to ward away external forces, perhaps I have a greater contact with mine through meditation, but it is the force of what I have experienced that leads me to faith in stillness. On the other hand, every moment of every day reminds me of my beginners’ mind. If asked, I’d consider myself an intermediate Buddhist simply due to the time I’ve spent studying. But I am yet a beginner, my stillest moments are in meditation. My peaceful mind has progressed from where it started, but what does my learning serve to reveal? It shows me the workings of my human self, how emotions rule us, how difficult it is to allow them to exist and yet not grasp at them, not stretch them out over time.

If I have at all progressed from absolute novice stage, that is the benefit of my progress: I know when I’m making a bad choice, I know when I’m grasping at anger or love, and I know that I keep making them because I have a long road to travel.

And now I am becoming a beginner again as I embark on a journey into the universe of Yoga. Two classes in, I’ve discovered so much about my body and its connection to my mind that I can’t help but believe that Buddhist meditation has brought me a great distance and will continue to help me progress, but Yoga will help me overcome some of the blocks on my path that have manifested physically instead of psychically. To hear the accomplishments, you’d think they were incredibly simple – such as realizing my feet felt turned inward while I was standing, looking at them and seeing they were parallel, and realizing that meant my usual stance was splayed. Or being able to hold an advanced pose briefly on my first try. Or just being more cognizant of the location and posture of my body.

But to a beginner, the small accomplishments are exciting.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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