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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beginner's Mind

Authority Figures

Try to say that: 'I don't know anything.'...Maybe you could think of yourself as an erased blackboard, ready to be written on. For by and large, what blocks spiritual teaching is the assumption that we already know, or that we don't need to know. We have to pray for beginner's mind. We need to say, with the blind man, 'I want to see.'”
Richard Rohr (Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer)

A young woman at my church called me “an authority figure.” I don't think it was meant as a compliment, so I can only assume that I come across that way. I feel I have “some 'splainin' to do,” as Ricky Ricardo would say. Everyday, when I wake up, I make the coffee, feed the dog, and sit down to write. Some people begin their day by writing in a journal, some people do yoga or meditate, some people pray, some people go for a run. I blog. I listen inside for something that speaks to me—something I need to say to myself, that are issues of mine in need of attention (like coming across as a know it all!). Sometimes a conversation or a discussion from a previous day is still rattling around in my head, or someone has suggested an author, or a book they think I might like. I follow these leads for what speaks to me. And then I write. What I write is intended as “notes to self” for the day. Writing grounds me in a positive way.

That said, I am not an authority on anything except myself. I have studied for fifty years what motivates human beings to do the things we do. I have seventy years of life experience, and I have had some great teachers along the way—some hard teachers, some loving, some filled with grace. If you are fortunate, you have had these, too. And still, I want to learn more from anyone or anything willing to teach me. That is the basis of beginner's mind—being open to the wisdom of others and the universe. What I have learned, such as it is, I want to share. What you have learned, I hope you'll share with me, because I can learn from you.

Being a blank slate is not easy for most of us. I'm happy to say that it gets easier as the years roll by, because we forget so much! (A little age related humor, there.) But it's helpful to not let what you think you already know get in the way of what you might learn that's new. Spirit cannot get through the dense matter of a made-up mind. She is an airy thing, and yet she requires some space in which to move. If you are able to make room for her, she will lead you to your own wisdom. You will become your own, and only, authority figure.

                                                            In the Spirit,


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