Originally posted on May 22, 2015…
so sorry I’ve been “gone” for the last 3 weeks — technical difficulties!! Glad to be back.
Two weeks ago, I attended my nephew Harrison’s graduation from NAU in Flagstaff. Commencement ceremonies mark both endings and beginnings. In Zen Buddhism, there is a phrase — Beginner’s Mind. It means coming at life fresh in each moment, as if you were just starting out, letting go of the past in order to move fully into this moment, with your curiosity about life still burning (whether you’re 23 or 67 or 95), open to new possibilities and new understandings. You can do this as a graduating college student and you can also do it on any day of your life. You could have a little commencement ceremony each day. To let go; to begin anew. Beginner’s Mind is the opposite of cynical mind, been-there-done-that mind, know-it-all mind, fear-filled mind, stick-your-head-in-the-sand-like-an-ostrich mind. Beginner’s Mind is don’t-know mind, open-to-new-possibilities mind. It’s not just for kids or college grads.
Here’s a couple of great commencement speeches I heard this last week. You can listen as part of your own commencement ceremony today, celebrating your own Beginner’s Mind.
First, Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University.
And Neil DeGrasse Tyson at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This is just an excerpt, but in it he talks about Earth killing 97% of the species that ever existed. Beginner’s Mind doesn’t mean romanticized mind.
I love DeGrasse Tyson and totally trust his intelligence and still, this was hard to listen to, to take in. We know the Earth also supports life. It’s not personal when Earth kills her species, not even the human species. She doesn’t take our bad behavior personally. duh. She’s not a person. Her shifting her tectonic plates around, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, and the work of viruses and bacteria are really just part of the mix of life. It’s not personal. Though some of our bad behaviors (as a species) can hurry “species-killing” along, so we definitely need to have a look at that too.
The poets and philosophers don’t call this life a mystery for nothing. I’ve been reading/listening to two awesome blogs that absolutely bring out the Beginner’s Mind in me. In the realms of Science, Spirituality, the Arts, and Understanding the Human Mind, and how all these arenas of knowledge interconnect, there are a lot of awfully smart people around!
On my front burner these days are these two blogs!
Maria Popova’s “Brainpickings” and Krista Tippet’s “On Being”.
Here Krista Tippet interviews Maria Popova on “On Being”.
I am so grateful for all this wisdom arriving in my laptop everyday! It’s like a little commencement ceremony each morning!