Your spiritual journey has five steps and in each step there is a primary spiritual concept which supports your learning and growth in that step.
The first step is The Call — a knowing that beckons you to follow. The Call may be very clear in what and why. Or the Call may be a gut feeling or awareness that this is something not to be missed.
In The Call, the primary spiritual concept is Beginner’s Mind.
Within the experience of this first step, The Call, you are invited to explore the spiritual concept of Beginner’s Mind and develop within yourself a foundation for its practice.
A beginner approaches newness without prior experience and usually without a lot of preconceived notions. A beginner is more likely to be open to receiving whatever is necessary to successfully learn and incorporate the new skill or the new understanding because a beginner has come to learn. A beginner is open to learn what has yet to appear within his or her knowing. This is the basis for Beginner’s Mind: an openness to learn, stepping past expectation and preconceptions. In Beginner’s Mind, you hold yourself, your heart and your mind open to receive, ready to learn.
Once you have any experience with a topic approaching with Beginner’s Mind can be challenging. Previous study and experience can fool your mind into believing that you already know what you need to know. Yet this world of existence is dynamic, creating anew infinitely and eternally. There always exists something you do not know, something your heart has yet to explore. When you yield tightly-held conclusions to the realm of possibility, you allow yourself to open and receive the potential of the unknown. Instead of thinking you know, you begin by saying, “I don’t know.” You make a commitment to honor Beginner’s Mind by affirming, “I stand open to learn.” By stepping into the flexibility and vulnerability of Beginner’s Mind, you support the opening in your heart, expanding your space within to hear The Call.
In the initial steps of your spiritual journey we more easily admit I don’t know. As you progress, it becomes imperative that you do not leave Beginner’s Mind behind as no longer necessary. However advanced you may think yourself to be, Beginner’s Mind is always an essential concept to follow and practice, anywhere and everywhere along your path. Beginners Mind allows you time and space to consider and reflect. Through your openness to receive and learn you create the place within you to hear The Call no matter where you are or where you think you have been. Being able to recognize when you have stepped away from the openness of Beginner’s Mind is the most overlooked and yet the most important spiritual concept for your journey. Beginner’s Mind reminds us all: do not assume you know the answer, approach always with the open heart and mind of the beginner saying,
I stand open and ready to learn.
Know, however, that Beginners Mind is not about giving up yourself and your sense of self trust. Beginners Mind is about learning to be open to new viewpoints and developing trust and maintaining your sense of self-responsibility. Beginners Mind does not give over to outside experts or influences, demanding an outside-in approach. Beginners Mind is opening to learn, focused on your heart and your inside-out process of truth and trust.
Additionally, embracing Beginners Mind is an embracing of, or an opening to, your inherent wisdom held in the depths of your heart and mind. Closed to learning is not about shutting off to noisy, outside influences, with Beginners Mind you open your connection to the best of yourself and your ability to establish self trust and perceived self truth. Beginners Mind counteracts the closed-off-to-self stance of outside-in and reinforces the beauty and truth of inside-out. Paradoxically, outside-in supports the knee-jerk reaction of I KNOW. Beginners Mind helps you step past this limitation and open to the unexpected possibilities of I LEARN.
This article is part of the articles I have written on the personal aspects of growth through spiritual practice. To read more like this, check out What is Spiritual Practice?