In this week’s post, Mo Henderson explores a state of feeling lost and confused about the state of the world and how the practice of meditation, and being willing to face life as it is, has helped her to both understand and be ready for change when it comes.
People living today may think there never has been such a chaotic mess, such a threatening environment, and with many assumptions/predictions of doom and gloom. The world is a complex place and probably, in a relative sense, always has been. I admit to sometimes feeling lost about the best and least harmful way to live. The discomfort of not serving the world in big and meaningful ways can be overwhelming. Sadness at seeing other human beings struggling for survival in situations of war and poverty can lead to despair and hopelessness and it is easy to get caught up in confusion and indecision when trying to work out how to help.
No one knows what will happen in the future, even what will happen in the next moment! With my logical mind, I can try to discern what is good to do, given all the information, experience, and study available to me. However, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to practice Zen meditation, just to sit still without trying to think, or not to think, has opened up a sense of being without needing to be over-concerned with deliberation about purpose and goals, particularly about things over which I have no control. Through sitting meditation I am learning to accept ‘not knowing’ with a minimum of assumptions and to see and experience what I may have otherwise missed.
In hindsight, there is sadness about this, especially when I recall past mistakes which I believe were governed by my narrow thoughts and predictions. What is important to me now is to simply ‘show up’ each day with an open mind, without any illusive purpose. This kind of ‘paying attention’ to what exists in life has helped me to hold what I think lightly and to be ready for it to be different.
In Buddhism, this is called ‘beginner’s mind’ to meet life as it is.
‘In beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,
but in the expert’s mind there are few’.