From Rev. Arlene

What does understanding mean? Is it just the comprehension of facts and information about things or is it the ability to perceive, comprehend, and apprehend things beyond mere appearances?

We have spent so much of our existence seeing everything with our senses that we often miss a deeper awareness. For instance, we may love to talk so much that we do not hear and do not understand what someone else is saying. Often this results in poor communication and an inability to be open to new ideas.

The same is true in our meditation. We may have no problem talking to God about what we want or do not want, but we rarely just sit in the silence waiting for God to tell us what He wants us to do – or be. Thus, we lose out on gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves or the world around us.

In his book, Zen Mind, Beginner Mind, Shunryu Suzuki stated, “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” This statement, in the beginning of the book, speaks of the tendency for many of us to think that to understand Zen, (or for that matter anything), we have to have a lot of knowledge. I believe what Suzuki was trying to say, is that when we are learning something new, we have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. As we learn more about the subject, we often begin to think we know everything and this attitude tends to bring with it a certain amount of prideful arrogance and aloofness, thereby distorting our perceptions.

We are all beginners on our spiritual journey because we should be constantly learning new things if we are open, while releasing any preconceptions of how things are. When we don’t think we know everything and take the time to listen to others, we have opportunities to learn new ideas and to see the world differently.

Quote of the Week

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Albert Einstein

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