"Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”
In the book titled Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, the concept is described in this way: “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything.”
For example, the Zen way of calligraphy is to write in the most straightforward, simple way as if you were a beginner, not trying to make something skillful or beautiful, but simply writing with full attention as if you were discovering what you were writing for the first time. Then your full nature is in your writing; this is the way of practice moment after moment. It is natural for us to have beginner's mind...at the very beginning of things. Once we learn, however, we tend to relate anything new to what we already know. It's how we learn to learn in Western society and culture.
In fact, we use our perspective. Perspective is the art of picturing objects so as to show relative distance or depth. We compare. We relate. We look for meaning in the relationship between something new and things that are familiar - things that we already know.
And what do we know?
A warehouse in the desert
Circling back to the beginning
An empty mind. Like an empty room, or an open space within the small room of the warehouse. A space open to knowing something from the big room of the warehouse. But to empty the mind...therein lies the rub! Let's start by acknowledging that we are in the small room. Observe the small room and whatever contents within it that you happen to notice. Simply observe. Eventually you may sense the presence of something else - something barely perceptible in the room but not of it. When that happens, simply direct a gentle awareness on that presence without getting excited about it or trying to figure out what it is. Simply observe and be with that presence. Let it show you what it is. When you slip (and you will slip) into relating or comparing - as soon as you realize you are attempting to apply meaning to this unfamiliar presence, you go back to simply observing. You begin again. And that is meditation - rather, one form or practice of it.
The contents of a room
The first effect
As one comprehends more and more this new way of being in the world, one comes home to long-lost parts of oneself. One's zest, vitality, efficiency, capacity to love and relate increases and deepens. One begins to know that each is a part of all others, that no one walks alone, and that oen is at home in, and a part of, the universe.
The kind of people who have attained this view represent some of the most important figures in human history, people who have had a marked effect on the rest of us. Here are Socrates and Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Meister Eckhardt and George Fox, Lau Tzu and Confucius, Bernard of Clairvaux, Rumi, Saint Theresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross.
The second effect
We can reach this attainment through perspective. Through contemplating things in relativity to familiar things - things that we know. Or we can reach this attainment through observation with our original minds - empty and ready for the possibilities inherent in unfamiliar things - things that we don't know, and things that we don't even know we don't know.