Separate Maya from Reality

77  bar steady 29.73  0mph NW  dew-point 62  sunrise 5:56  sunset 8:42 Summer

Waning Crescent of the Thunder Moon

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Beginner’s mind.  It has such a resonance for me.  It reminds us that separating maya from reality is a learned skill, one at which we can improve and improve by a vast extent.  It also suggests that life, instead of growing more difficult as we learn, can grow simpler, more straightforward.  Once one abandons ambition, goals and accepts death life becomes less cluttered.

Chess education speaks of beginner’s mind.  The beginner has to contemplate so many moves that the mind becomes overwhelmed, unable to choose.  The expert sees the board as lines of force and connected patterns related to classic moves.  Thus, even though the expert looks at the same board as a beginner, she can look further ahead with less choice to a better move.

Learning is the same.  As I grow older and my information and knowledge base increases, I find that connections between and among ideas comes quicker, more easily.  Historical data correlates with art or architecture, political movements, literary experimentation.  Certain patterns of thought typical of the Renaissance, say, illuminate Chines thinking of the Warring States Period.  Ways of approaching matters of faith begin to interlace and inform each other rather than conflict and confuse.

Horticulture.   Over the years here in Andover the care and feeding of multiple plants in multiple beds, with varying sun has gone from difficult to manageable.  This year I have added hydroponics and vegetables (though Kate has done vegetables for years).  In the fall we will plant an orchard and add a few raised beds.  With a beginner’s mind the care of such a diverse garden would have created chaos and the plants would have suffered, now the moves are more familiar, more predictable, the choices have decreased.

On the other hand beginner’s mind can help us visit old areas with fresh eyes.  It can help us embrace each day with wonder and awe.  Beginner’s mind can keep us in the present and attentive to the now.  Beginner’s mind can help us break free of stale routines and static ideas.  Beginner’s mind can keep love fresh and learning exciting.

So we need both beginner’s mind and the expert mind.

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