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Thursday, July 14, 2011

SHOSHIN

Shoshin : A concept in Zen Buddhism mostly translated as “beginner’s mind” denominating a state of unbiased consciousness.
Also translated as - correct, genuine, original truth.

Popularized in the Western culture by the book “Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind” by the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, who says about this approach to Zen practice: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.”
Mostly misunderstood and misinterpreted as “a child’s mind” - a mind without preconceptions and expectations, without judgements and prejudices a mind of pure and unbound curiosity.

A child’s state of consciousness is a “non dualistic state of consciousness” Arriving in the material world the child has no concept of danger, foul play or hurt. A new born doesn’t have any prejudices and preconceptions therefore he cannot judge one way or the other, he has no concept of right or wrong.

We like to believe of the children’s innocence as something wonderful without realizing that a child will harm himself or others left to his own means. (Imagine a bunch of toddlers left in a room with a box of knives, blades and axes.) We like to believe that a child’s curiosity is something wonderful but have you ever seen a child pulling off the wings of a butterfly? Would you drink out a bottle of detergent to see how it taste like? A child would.

Living in a material world the child has to develop a “dualistic state of consciousness.” In order to know what truth is he has to learn what lie is.
He has to learn the difference between love and hate and in order to know what good is he has to learn what is bad.
With just a mind of pure and unbound curiosity, without preconceptions and expectations, without judgements and prejudices a child is a helpless being heading for disaster. We have to lose our innocence in order to survive.

As we grow up we keep feeding into the “apple” of knowledge and in time we metamorphose into a dualistic state of consciousness.
As adults we live in a deeply divided state of mind, trying to navigate the hard and narrow path of righteousness in a constant battle between good and bad.

We fail more or less miserably at that and live a life of pain and frustration – (The first noble truth.)
As Buddha taught us the problem is “clinging” as I like to translate – (The second noble truth.)

In our dualistic state of consciousness we develop biases – we get “stuck” in attachments and detachments, we pick or reject one side over another – rich over being poor, famous over being humble, powerful over being meek etc. losing the truth that “duality” is just an illusion and starting to believe that our “side” is the right side and that the “other’s” side is the wrong side. We hence live in a constant battle within and without.

Shoshin is the practice of unbiased, unstuck, free mind akin more to the “middle way” of Buddhist teachings than to the unbound curiosity of a child’s mind.
It is the practice of no clinging – no attachments and no detachments.
To this practice we can reach a state of consciousness harmony.