Ultimate Fulfillment 46

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 22, 2015

In one moment, you insist that things go your way; in another, you allow everything to be as it is.

Which approach do you suppose is better or best for realizing the ultimate in personal fulfillment?

Osho once said, and I paraphrase, the fulfillment of Zen is the pinnacle of human consciousness.

In my current study of the energy of allowance with respect to choicelessness, mindfulness, and righteousness, I am slowly but surely preparing the ground to articulate the nature of soul and spirit in relation to the ego and the heart, and along the way, I came across a notion in Zen called shoshin.

In the West, shoshin (pronounced show-sheen) is commonly referred to as Beginner’s Mind, which in my mind is something of a misnomer because your understanding and appreciation of the relationship between Self and Other can be very advanced and highly elevated with and through shoshin.

Some western commentators with leanings towards the practice of Zen come to shoshin by way of their disenchantment with expertise, with their own expertise in particular, and more generally, with the expertise of others, and the reason why this is so can be captured simply and powerfully as follows:

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few

~ Zen master Shunryo Suzuki

The mind of Zen is well known for saying much in few words. In this quote, we get a glimpse into the nature of shoshin: when I remain open to my experience, possibilities abound.

Does this eloquent Zen master mean to suggest that we all become beginners again?

Yes … and no.

In a sense, yes: by remaining open to the possibilities that come through experience, by remaining mindful yet choiceless, we are that much more able to reflect and respond to what we receive.

In a sense, no: he is not suggesting that we wipe the slate clean of our past experience that served to advance our learning and growth, only that we change our approach to learning and growth.

In other words, we need not reinvent the wheel; we need not forget how to cross the road; we need not forgo our native wisdom in service to our sharp instincts to reflect and respond, to act and react.

So is it all a simple matter of remaining open to experience without pride and prejudice, without presumptions and pretensions, without any righteousness whatsoever, positive or negative?

Actually, no.

Righteousness, both positive and negative, serves a valuable function, providing vital contrast for the experience of mindfulness by way of choicelessness, serving to advance the evolution and realization of consciousness. Remaining open to the possibilities that arise from and through and out of personal experience is but one facet of that diamond known as shoshin.

When you aim for a destination, do you fail to take notice of what is happening along the way?

When you aim to learn something new, is your mind preoccupied by the outcome of learning it?

When you practice a new skill, do you allow for the experience of falling down or falling behind?

When you enter a situation or have an encounter that contains a challenge, can you rely on your intuition, your gut instinct, being comfortable with the experience of not knowing what to say or do next?

When you enter a situation or have an encounter that contains no perceivable challenge, are you comfortable, not with letting go of knowing, but with letting go of ass-uming, of thinking that you know?

When you fall short of having something you truly need or want, do you should all over yourself?

When you hear someone tell you that you should do this or do that, can you say “no thank you”?

When you enter or encounter the unknown, can you experience each subsequent moment fully?

When you get struck by a new idea, do you have it within you to say no to common knowledge?

When you feel inspired to do something you’ve never done before, can you ignore “the watchers” and take the risk of looking or sounding or feeling oh so silly, stupid, foolish, or nescient?

A professor once visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen.

The master served tea; when the visitor’s cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.

“The cup is full!” exclaimed the professor. “No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

How, indeed.

When you visit a Zen master, can you keep your mouth shut long enough to respect her wisdom?

These poignant questions are pregnant with wisdom, and I don’t mean to presume that I am full of wisdom, for these questions are questions that I could easily ask myself on occasion.

Perhaps the essence of shoshin is taking up and keeping up a spirit of inquiry, asking questions rather than presuming answers, approaching the unknown without a mind full of preconceptions.

As I said, “remaining open to experience is … but one facet of that diamond known as shoshin”.

So again …

In one moment, you insist that things go your way; in another, you allow everything to be as it is.

Which approach do you suppose is better or best for realizing the ultimate in personal fulfillment?

When you contemplate this mother of all questions, forget not the truth and wisdom of shoshin …

Note: my evolving outline on the ultimate in personal fulfillment can now be found here, accessible from the nav menu under “Be Here Now”. I’ll be sure to inform readers of any updates.

Next: Ultimate Fulfillment 47

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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