I am starting a new quest to regain my beginner buddhist mind. I had so much fun. Everything was exciting. I remembered what I would always tell myself: Simplify!
As I've walked the path, I think I've taken on too many expectations from buddhism. What was once an escape from stress has become in some ways another source of stress.
So now I will simplify once more. And try to ask less questions. Questions bring parameters answers must fit into. Am I a bad buddhist? Well, what is a buddhist? What is bad? I give myself headaches these days.
I am going to breathe, and listen, and be still and simple. I think more about my practice and spend less time practicing. Oh jeeze.
From another thread ...
As far as I know Buddhas are awake and awake Buddhas who try to awaken others are Bodhisattvas. So the Buddha was a Bodhisattva. Not all Therevadins or awakened people try or indeed can wake others ...
Do people awaken today? You bet your three jewels they do ... [oops no gambling in the ranks ]
What can you add?
By letting go of a few things, and calling to mind the enthusiasm you used to have, you can approach the beginners mind again. But I think it's natural to go through phases when progressing through Buddhism, it slowly deepens you and gains resonance within you.
Five months ago I did a mini-retreat of listening to the talks of the Art of Suffering retreat that Thich Nhat Hanh gave. At the time some of it was revelatory. This time around, when I did it again a few days ago, I discovered new connections between mindfulness and some of the factors on the path... the dharma is deep, you continually find new aspects.
The beginners mind is beautiful, but the approach of a mature practitioner can also be so.
A beginner's mind.... um where to begin .....by unfettering...and how to unfetter???...
Begin by showing "appreciation" for that which we often take for granted...all the little things in life....
It's a new dawn It's a new day, it's a new life, ...Feeling Good
Keep the wonder alive and attach to no view outside of the reach of science.
Every answer brings with it new questions and let's face it, we are all just beginners and only get like a hundred years at best to screw around here. That's peanuts.
Will someone explain to me how you could possibly LOSE beginner's mind?
Lose the mind ... but do not go crazy. Iz plan ...
@genkaku as I learned more about the scripture and abstractions of Buddhism i became a bit overwhelmed and lost sight of what i truly wanted to do...find peace. not knowledge or a thesis.
@lobster the mind is fickle. we are all crazy
Think it's more of a case of learning the wrong patterns myself... disillusionment, disenchantment, viewing the world through eyes which have seen a lot.
Beginners. Fresh as an empty tea cup. Intermediaries = storm in a teacup. The Lost = Wot was the quest again ...?
In computer terms we have GIGO. In dharma terms we have 'progress' not through gain and accumulation but emptying and losing impediments, certainties, gods, hang ups, unkind and unhelpful behavour/tendencies ... etc.
We do not lose or find beginners mind, nirvana, Buddha Nature, Ain, Tao etc, we merely stop our monkeying around ...
Or put on hold our monkeying around mind, as we pause and notice how many branches our thoughts branch off into. Goodness, that's a lot.
im all for simplicity .personally the goal is ease and mind.breath and be.
@paulyso I think a root issue is a still hold unease about be-ing.
kannon,i hear you about this unease about be-ing. the dude abide,the big libouski--spelling wrong--movie comes to mind.what does it mean to abide?i think to me,is to abide in awareness. it is ,in my opinion ,awareness is the base function of mind whether in the foreground or background of consciousness.sorta-like a baby absorbing it's senses through awareness.so in a way awareness is the center between be and ing. be is our usness and ing is our volition or field of our activity.next paragraph in the next post
how to abide?ive discovered if i bring awareness to the foreground,stress in brain function subside.it's all new to me. it's like returning to the the natural state.respond and react in a natural way.i don't know.i will see how this goes. thanks for allowing to speak my mind.
You have a mind?
Whatever for? I'm all ears ... definitely have them. Mind seems to be temperamental, illusionary construct even ...
lobster,i have a cleaver thought.mind is the energy go ,e-go,get it?in all seriosness,i see your point about mind,not to be grasp.the innateness of mind canbe intut-ion,and spontanious.the buddha suggest the gnosis element.but yes mind and awareness may have a correlation.the thinking mind,in my opinion,is useful to navigate life .kinda like our raft,the buddhist metaphor ,thrue the the changing condition wave of thought.sometimes calm ,sometimes turbulance.so maybe in that aspect the thinking mind is illusary construct of brain habit.i dont know.
Buddhist two mind exploration ... (suitable for unbuddhists) - watch out for the unthinkable Pink Heffalump ...
Attachment to views is quite common with Buddhists.
One technique is to just reflect on all the things you know little or nothing about... baking, Tai Chi, knitting, carpentry, online sales, advertising, Chinese cookery, physics, and so on. Soon you will realise that you, basically, know nothing about pretty much everything, and, even then, you might be wrong about everything you think you do know.
This reminds me of the story I heard of an American woman who had had an Ayahuasca ceremony, and in the trance had revealed to her that "everything she knew was bullshit". She said it "chilled her out, and made her less worried about evil and inconsiderate people, because they were walking their path. But don't come near [her] with your evil ass energies or [she] would knock you the fuck out." It made me chuckle.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." ~Shunryu Suzuki
Some questions are good for cultivating beginners mind. When you realize that you can't intellectually figure out "what your face was before your parents were born", then you have no choice to go back to beginner's mind and realize you are no expert!
As many say try just " sitting quietly, doing nothing "......
By realizing that knowing the sky is blue is a mistake.
I recommend the following: Every time you come to ponder some factor concerning the mysteries, teachings, writings, comments, articles, links, suttas, tales, theories, opinions, whatever, I ask myself this:
"How useful/supportive/relevant is this to my practice? How much will questions and answers to this, further my progress?"
If you're doing ok as you are (and more often than not, you will be), then read with detachment, then let it be.
"Beginner's Mind" (Start at the beginning )
"Now, how do I regain my Beginner's Mind?"...........
Gawd, have they changed the colour again?!
Yup, it's a funny Neapolitan colour. I should know, I just come a-back from a-dere....
Perhaps inspiration is an important factor to a good meditation. If that is the case then we should try to perserve it. How? I guess one way would be to be less judgemental and just do it. Only if it doesn't cause suffering for anyone including yourself.
Call me an un orthodox Buddhist newly initiated, but having the beginner's mind is pretty overrated (and probably a oldies mind as well) because the practice is still the same.
I think it's good to do what's best for yourself. For example, The Buddha talks a lot about attachments. I took formal precepts and refuges at our local monastery. They gave us two booklets one on meditation (according to Zen Vietnamese practice) and a repentance booklet. We received blue robes to wear during worship, celebration, study, and whenever visiting a monastery. People call these attachments, but to a beginner's mind, these actually are helpful.
Beginner's minds usually have a difficult time wondering how to sit on the cushion for more than five minutes. If you're out of practice meditating, start back at five minute intervals, ten mins, etc. Do it at times you feel refreshed. With me, I do it after I come off from work and exercised. For some reason I can't just "go worship" I need some energy first.
Depending on the tradition, depends on what emphasis your school puts practice on. The beginner's mind is pretty stuck in where the emphasis is placed and not just what the meaning is behind it. For example, full moons in May (so told by our master) signify the big life events of The Buddha. Maybe start off with just observing the full moons in general and take the precepts and refuges again and again. Not repetitive but just to remind you to put these things into everyday practice. Yes, we can talk about impermanence all day long, but what does it mean without talking about our experiences that make these theological discussions come to real life in a discussion.
Keep yourself physically healthy. No or less alcohol, limit the types of foods you eat that drain your mind, get proper sleep, and don't stress too much. It's not just about meditation but how you take care of yourself so you won't blame your monkey mind and attachments as if you're blaming the devil when it's just you slept in till 3a.m. in the morning because of a hungover from clubbing. Anything that helps the mind be clear.
Right now, I'm pacing myself. Our sister said I can call her if I'm having trouble keeping the precepts I vowed to keep. The monastery, while there all day, donated me money since I took a cab to get there and to get back 'round trip was about sixty dollars if I didn't get a ride which I did.
On that note, give donations and help others. In our tradition, it's generally respectful to help the monks out from time to time since they live a vow of poverty. Simple things like giving your old clothes to a nearby church (we have a lot of christian churches here. The monastery is way out in the middle of nowhere's land).
Walk in gratitude and be appreciative. Bow-the act of bowing is pretty powerful. It's not an attachment just a way to show your appreciation for The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Many ways to be a beginner and/or stay in a constant state without beginner and oldie. Keep an easy pace and it may become second nature to you without missing the fun in giving, receiving, and saying thanks from time to time.
There is a sign at the monastery I visit : "Less Drama, More Dhamma." A beginner's mind motto.
I think that most Buddhists have gone through what you have experienced .. that heady excitement at the beginning. It usually lasts up at as long as the first 5 years, and is the same mechanism as falling in love (infatuation) or being “born again”.
That excitement is not permanent. It is not what Buddhism/romance/being-born-again is really about.
And I suspect this is why the Tibetan texts say you should take five years before you accept a teacher as your guide. And why the teachers often wait 5 years before they will ordain a student who is asking to be ordained.
I think you are on the right track. Breathe, listen, be still … and observe. Work on mindfulness.
We all judge ourselves, tell ourselves we “should” or “should not” do this or be that way. This is just part of normal human thought patterns. This self-judgement is not part of being a Buddhist but it is part of being human. So observe it, without buying into it, and without trying to “fix” it. Open to what goes on inside of you, without judgement. Open, observe … and then relax about it. Buddhism is more about how you are being, than about who you are becoming. And the biggest problem we encounter, is our desire to “fix” ourselves, to change what is happening around us, to wipe away our discontent and to have things the way we want. All of these things we want to change … they are not the problem. It is our response to them that causes us our suffering.
But, as I said, I think you are on the right track.
“Everything is always changing. If you relax into this truth, that is Enlightenment. If you resist, this is samsara (suffering).”
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, “What Makes You (Not) a Buddhist”
I think most people are going to come at this from a mental and spiritual perspective (which is important), but since that part is going to be covered better than anything I can say, I'll chime in with something completely different.
Let's talk neuroscience. How do we keep the brain young?
The brain has this feature called plasticity, which is the degree to which it changes in response to external stimuli. While this plasticity tends to decrease with age, with a major synaptic pruning occurring during the early twenties, it is never lost. From the moment you are born until the moment you die, your brain is growing new cells, forming new synapses, and laying down new myelin sheaths.
Your brain's degree of plasticity determines how quickly you learn.
So the question becomes, is there any way to increase this?
First: exercise. Cardio. Lots of it. Thirty minutes a day five days a week at 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Wait. How does that make sense?
I can tell you a few things.
After people hit their thirties or so, they start losing around 1% of their brain volume every year. Regular cardio completely offsets this effect.
Cardio increases expression of a protein called brain derived neurotrophic growth factor, or BDNF. This stuff is basically fertilizer for the brain. It increases the likelihood that new synapses will form, it encourages myelin formation, and it increases the rate of new brain cell birth.
Running outdoors, if you're up to it, is a cognitively demanding task. Regular runners demonstrate visible growth in brain areas involved in self-monitoring, strategic decision making, emotional regulation, and planning.
There is no more powerful way of keeping the brain physically young than regular cardiovascular exercise.
You are not a mind in a jar. Chronic inflammation from a poor diet and lack of sleep will dramatically impair brain health in invisible but very real ways. The brain needs protein, healthy fats, stable blood sugar levels, and a variety of vitamins. If you eat a healthy diet, you're probably replete with most of what you need, but the majority of folks who eat a great diet are still mildly deficient in magnesium and Vitamin D, both of which are very important for cognitive functioning. Iron deficiency is also common, and you need iron to form myelin and make dopamine. The brain also needs DHA and EPA, which are Omega 3 fatty acids predominantly found in seafood and generally lacking in the typical Western diet.
Sleep is incredibly critical, and a lot of people don't get enough of it.
Effortful learning increases BDNF. Combined with exercise, it's a combo punch. Meditation helps. Doing something like learning a new language or going through a textbook is great mental exercise.
By being mindful and not mind full ...
A beginner's mind is an empty mind ...and...
@Shoshin yes I definitely replied my thoughts with Buddhist thoughts constantly questioning my practice. For a moment i was empty, then I got caught again.
I have had problems indulging in my natural passivity. I am encountering more and more times I wish I could just say or do something. Instead I do nothing. It is easy to pass off with surface value Buddhism. But I am repressing instead of accepting.
It reminds me of CBT. There comes a point where I cognitively understand what is wrong and what is good but i am hesitant to put in the behavior. Like @Refugee generously put. I stall and end up going backward. I dicked around this summer. I am back in school though and will be emailing my therapist soon for a new appointment.
Coasting off peaks just means I inevitably lose altitude. I will learn how to keep building up instead.
Thanks everyone for their wonderful advice. I read it all ❤ bow
Start with a fresh seeking mind every day.
Simpler - Wake up!
Or, start with seeking a fresh mind every day.
My brain hurts.
Are you enlightened?
Then you probably suck. You are probably the nicest amongst your peer group, but given the planet you inhabit, this counts for little.
You are likely infected with endless nuances and shades of selfishness that upset / frustrate / anger those around you in degrees of quantity and quality that - if you were to become aware of and feel - would bring you to your knees in shame and pain and infinite regret.
You're a dick - one of seven billion... another shitty grain of sand on a shitty beach by a shitty Poundland town, and everything you think you've attained that elevates you above those around you is at once reducing you below them as you blow a nano trumpet that is better shoved up your own arse.
@Kerome I like this notion a lot. Reminds me of pure concsciouness in PL
@Kannon. Youth is a time of quick moves and accumulations. It is also a time of beginning to know the value of slow and steady. I don't think you need to regain anything at all.