A Child's Mind

A successful businessman went to a Zen master and announced he had come to learn all about Zen. The master invited the man to sit down and have tea. As the master poured the tea, it overflowed. The businessman shouted, “It’s spilling, it’s spilling!” To which the master replied, “Precisely-you came with a full cup. Your cup is already spilling over, so how can I give you anything? Unless you come with emptiness, I can give you nothing.”

Your journey . . . begines when you empty your mind of all the overused and undernourishing ideas you have inherited . . . Using your Beginner’s Mind, you will see things in a refreshing, exhilirating way . . . Open yourself up to your unlimited potential . . . This is your initiation into the eloquence of the thinking body and the grace of the dancing mind.

Huang, Chungliang and Jerry Lynch. Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: TaoSports for extraordinary performance in athletics, business, and life. Bantam, 1992, p. 29.

What is the beginner’s mind?

I have made a career out of learning. No, not a career, a life. One of the things that I have found most important in this life of learning is to throw away preconceived notions. Approaching problems with an open mind is crucial. If you have some idea in your head about what is causing an issue, you can poison your mind to other options. Only with an open mind can you really see.

Seeing is important.

4 thoughts on “A Child's Mind”

  1. I believe that not consitering any option – be in in the box or out of the box – would show that you are bringing pre-concived notions to the table.

    Emptyness is not rejecting things because they are not new – emptyness is seeing everything as it is. Being open to new, or old, ideas and concepts.

  2. There is no doubt that thinking we know something can be a barrier to learning. Equally true is that some things, religion being an oft cited one, require us to abandon a lot of what we ‘know’ in order to comprehend it.

    Taking from that the principle that it is better to know nothing than to know things is taking the principle way too far. Equally, thinking outside the box is often overrated. Sometimes it is needed, but most often the box is there for a reason and what works is, in fact, what works.

    I would rather have a company that was 100% ‘in the box’ than have a company that was contantly trying to think outside of it. A little creativity is good, refusing to use the tried and true because it isn’t ‘creative’ enough isn’t.

  3. Easier said than done. In my opinion, the child’s mind is achieved by 1) being a child, or 2) through meditation. I’ve found that it takes significant effort to get yourself to let go of everything. But, I think that is the point…it takes effort.

  4. A good example of this is the technician that was working on our phone system yesterday. He was attempting to troubleshoot why he could not get one of the phone jacks to work. The method he was using was merely testing if another jack was working in a variety of different ways. In his mind he was switching between the two jacks, but he was merely switching the same jack between to plugs in the phone switch.

    The way I am explaining this might be losing something in the translation, but eventually another technician came along and had to explain to the first that he was not looking at the logic in his troubleshooting right. The first technician could not clear his mind enough to understand that he wasn’t testing the correct jack.

    When we get something set in our minds one way, it is very difficult at times to step back and rethink the situation. Religious discussions are notorious for this type of thought process. People of varying religious beliefs are so ingrained in their life-long belief systems that they find it next to impossible to accept any other line of reasoning.

    Some folks swear by Fords, and some by Chevy’s, still others are die hard Honda followers, and then there is the type that have Diesel’s on the brain. Of course the Dodge fanatics are way out there. ;)

    This mental problem is why those people who can think ‘outside the box” are a valuable asset to a company. A business does not need folks who are mired in their own idioms, but people who can make the mental leaps necessary to cover a larger encompassing scope.

    I pride myself on having an open mind and make a real effort to listen to all points of a discussion. Like most people, I too occasionally fall victim to my own thoughts and seemingly have my own cup ‘spilling over”. Some people who know me ask where I find the time to read all the things that I read, or listen to talk radio, or watch the Science and Discovery channels. The fact is, this is what I enjoy, and so in my spare time it is what I do.

    In the car I listen to talk radio so I can stay current on events of the world, and more importantly so I can listen to several sides of a variety of discussions. When at home, and the family has gone to bed, I work on my websites or read about whatever happens to be of interest to me at that moment. If I am in a television mood, I may do the brain-dead thing and watch a sitcom, or spend a Sunday watching things like the Science or Discovery channels.

    Since I tend to stay informed on many topics, I am also very aware that many people don’t read or write much these days. The older they get, many adults tend to lose their ability to read well, write well or even engage in meaningful conversations. For some reason I can’t function that way. This is perhaps one reason I am working as a network administrator/engineer. In my career the industry is always changing. We literally learn new ways to do our jobs daily and have to adapt our thought processes accordingly.

    Take a class on something that interests you. Read a book, any book fiction or non, but exercise your mind and work on your reading skills. When watching television, seek out the more informative channels, watch the news, or even something like an interior decorating or cooking show. The key is to watch something informative, not mentally draining. Write poetry, short stories, emails to your friends. Nobody to write to? Participate in forums on whatever website you find interesting. At the very least take up a hobby.

    In addition to everything else I have mentioned, I also enjoy the LGB train that goes around our Christmas tree every year and I read magazines about Garden Railways even though I currently do not have the time or money to create one of my own. I am a scuba diver for the local water rescue team. Currently I am maintaining about 8 websites (I lose count) and helping others create web pages and sites of their own. My fish tank is something else that I enjoy, and the current crop of fish can’t wait until I stop by every day to toss them their munchies. This past year has brought two dogs into our home, and I love to feed the Quail, finches and hummingbirds in the backyard.

    Can I continue with my interests and what I do in my life? You bet. Sometimes it’s exhausting just listing my activities, and that’s not even going into what needs to be done for my three daughters with school, Girl Scouts, Volleyball, Basketball, Flute and violin lessons, etc…

    It’s no wonder I am getting more gray by the day.

    So keep your cup at least empty enough to allow new things to pour in. Embrace life and live it by always searching for new experiences. This is why I love my ‘Life In A Handbasket Website”, because I get to write about a great many things and invite the world in for discussions. Unfortunately the world does not know the site exists, but that has not stopped me from writing my articles for the past several years.

    The final thing is not only must you maintain enough room in your personal cup to learn new things, but you must also pursue your interests even if the odds are against you. Not many people read my articles, but I don’t care. They are written as a way for me to express myself and get out in words all of the strange and random thoughts I am mulling over as I live my life.

    It was Albert Einstein that said, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Do something different, right now, today!

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