Sunday 12-8-19 Beginners Mind

Happy Sunday!

I’ve been thinking this week about when I took the level 1 Healing Touch (HT) class back in October 2018. The instructor asked during the introduction that we come into the class with a beginner mind, open to learning and new ideas. Thinking back I learned so much so I was open but it bothers me today that I did interject, or to be kinder to myself, offered things I had already learned into a few lessons. What these were is not important; what is is that I have this bothersome feeling that I didn’t listen to the instructions of holding the ‘beginners mind’ and may have done a dis-service to myself and the class.

Here is the dilemma. Does having a beginners mind mean only taking in new information and not sharing ideas of things already learned or contributing creative alternatives?

The homily this morning by Father Rohr also mentioned ‘beginners mind’1. He was speaking about the Gospel, Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed 10 lepers but just one, a Sumerian, returned to Jesus to give praise to God. Father Rohr made the point that it was the foreigner who was grateful. He was the one not part of the ‘in crowd’ of society therefore he had fewer expectations and feelings of entitlement. Father Rohr used the analogy of the freshman who listens, who is eager to learn all the requirements to fit in while the sophomore doesn’t listen to instruction as he thinks he knows all the requirements already – his belief of already knowing all he needs to know.

From my HT training I have feelings that I did wrong but I also think that my offers were just little tips I had heard elsewhere that help me to remember so they might help someone else as well.

My negative perspective of myself sees I interrupted the instructor (I did raise my hand) to offer my time. My positive perspective of the memory says I offered a different tool to others in the group. Why do I still think of this and judge it one way or the other? Even now it takes away from my delving into understanding ‘beginners mind’.

Isn’t it always good to help others?

I am going to reflect on NO.

While preparing to settle into reflecting and writing on this topic I type up my blog from 11-24-19 for posting. On that day I started that contemplation feeling gratitude and wanting to share that strong feeling to aid others in arriving at that feeling as well. I came to realize that many others felt what I was feeling and that it is not just ‘me, me, me’; I am just an individual within a collective. Therefore, if I am choosing to help others as I think I have something more than them, that they are lacking and require my help, then it is not good.

I recently observed in a friend’s family a family member who they all put down as not doing anything to care for herself. When her situation changed by the death of her spouse she became willing and capable to learn new skills to care for herself. It seems there are cases where others may give so much they don’t allow an individual to do for themselves.

I’ve heard it said that parents that do not teach their children to care for themselves are perpetrating a form of child abuse by not permitting the child to mature into an adult.

I can understand now that the reasoning of speaking out because it may help others is fueling my ego. If someone is in need of the piece of information I might offer the opportunity to offer it will arise. In the teacher/student situation I found myself in, I can see now that it is better to be humble and open minded (and hearted) so as to allow myself to receive what is being given to me by the teacher.

Father Rohr’s analogy of the freshman and sophomore expectations is helping me to understand the benefits of beginners mind.

It is about being open to receive what another is willing giving to you. Leave the ego outside. It is a choice to be open and vulnerable to new things without having to boost yourself by presenting everything you think you already know just to make yourself feel comfortable.

I feel very grateful for this reflection today.

  1. Father Richard Rohr Homilies,, “Perpetual Sophomores”, 10-13-19.

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