A beginner’s mind

Simple, ordinary, everyday awareness seems to be at the heart of what Krishnamurti taught, and yet it is so easy to forget this because of all the dimensions of what he had to say about consciousness, thought, the self, time, the observer, etc. It’s as though one misses the forest for the trees.

The phrase ‘a beginner’s mind’ is not Krishnamurti’s (though it might as well have been). It comes from a Zen word - shoshin - which means to approach things as though for the first time, to be open, to perceive the world afresh, as though one were a complete beginner.

To be be aware with a beginner’s mind one must put aside everything that one has been taught, all one’s previous experiences and knowledge, and perceive anew, be perceptually aware anew, of one’s inner and outer world in its perceptual immediacy.

There is no argument in this. There is no conclusion to be reached. There is no goal to attain. There is no need to categorise or reduce what is there to be seen or perceived. One is simply aware, or not aware. That’s all.

There are no winners or losers, no comparisons to be made, no experts or people who ‘know’ - whether the expert be oneself or another. There is just what is actually taking place in the present moment, and one’s natural ability as a human being to be aware of what is taking place in the present moment.

This is the simplest approach I can think of. Yet it has the potential, I feel, to include everything that Krishnamurti spoke about.


Why do you believe that K is a Buddha?

He might or might not be. I am open to both the possibilities. Are you?

You might believe that he is a Buddha because he might have affected your consciousness deeply. Yes, he did affect me too. But, it doesn’t mean he must have been transformed. He might have some Conditionings left in his contents of consciousness to be aware of.

I’m not saying I am better insightful than him. But, I see, it is not necessary to believe and condition oneself that “K must have been transformed”. He might have transformed or might not but have a high degree of partial insight.

And why I am open to the other possibility is, his frustration and sufferings at many times shows it. The seeking of “urgency of change” (what should be - that ‘this’ way the world should be but not any way other than Love/Compassionate) shows a moving away from ‘what is’. A huge desire of Change never let him be free, even though he seeked it in the name of “Love or Compassion”. Sometimes, he separated himself from people and complaining/criticizing about many things.

Another thing is, the senses. Senses are not given much importance in religions, even by Buddha too, and to question it too.
The first thing is this sensual experience. Whether one can really trust this experience as Actuality or not, and whether there can be a link between every actions in the world as pre-determined - is never looked into and we never mind it as we are very rooted in it in the name of “common sense”, to not to be stupid.

If one really seeks to understand truth, why one have to blindly believe the senses as actuality? Is there a Rule/Procedure/Method/Belief/conditioning as such?

If you will forgive me for pointing out Viswa (masquerading as Adam!), whether Krishnamurti was a Buddha or not is not the topic of this thread.

You can question the senses if you wish to. For myself this has very limited meaning. The senses are a given, they are natural. Unless we were able to see, hear, touch and taste, etc, we wouldn’t be able to live.

This doesn’t mean that what the senses perceive covers the whole of what exists. There are aspects of the world that we may never be able to sense perceive. Such as being inside the black hole that physicists talk about. In addition to this there may be a reality which is non-material, something beyond matter and beyond physical energy, which the senses cannot perceive.

But all this is in the realm of speculation. What we have actually to perceive is the world around us, people, nature, trees and flowers, animals and birds and insects. Also what people have built: cars, roads, telegraph poles, buildings and factories. As well as wars, the divisions we see in society, the rich and the poor, the racial divisions, the social and religious divisions.

And inwardly we can be aware of our own thinking and feeling, our sensations of pleasure and pain, the movements of desire and fear, the feelings of joy and sorrow. We can look out how much of our lives are spent in thought, and how little we actually see and listen to what is going on inwardly and outwardly.

All this is within everyone’s ability to be aware. This is what we are looking at on this thread.

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Yes, but it isn’t done often enough, if at all. Beginner’s mind is temporary erasure of all the conclusions and judgments the brain has accumulated. It’s what we call an “open mind”.

A reasonable brain does this all the time because it’s aware of how accumulative it is, and therefore, how essential it is to question its accumulations and what they amount to. But unless one feels deeply how essential it is question oneself, one doesn’t do it, and the mind is not as open to its mistakes and misunderstandings as it is to its next accumulation.

You know that, I create account only by name of Viswa, but this time I couldn’t because of some software configuration. That’s why. Happy that you easily understood that it is Viswa.

We can perceive it. Sure. We have to seriously perceive what happens both inside and outside.

But, why one seeks a change outside? Isn’t this a huge Desire/conditioning? It is okay to seriously seek a change inside (I.e. end of sufferings, etc.). But, about outside, if we seek a change then we never want to leave people be free in the way they want to live individually.

To perceive what happens outside and inside, there is no need to blindly believe that “senses is actuality” and by being open one can perceive holistically what is. Isn’t it?

Again, change is not the topic of this thread.

Did you read the original post which introduced this thread?

It is about the quality of being a beginner: forgetting about one’s theories, one’s Krishnas and Buddhas, one’s Puranas and Vedanta Sutras, and just paying attention to the simple sensory and psychological facts within, as well as the actual perceptual facts going on in the world around us.

We are not talking about blind belief in anything, but simple being aware, what one is aware of. As already mentioned, sensations are included in this, perceptions of the world as we perceive it, as well as what is going on within ourselves. That’s all.

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Yes, ok. It is a temporary stopping and looking. A momentary stepping back from the stream of action, and becoming aware of what we are doing and thinking, what we are experiencing and feeling. Taking a moment to look outside ourselves at the world going by, or looking within ourselves at the psychological world taking place. Being open.

What’s wrong with this?

There’s no guarantee that such a moment of stopping and looking will result in anything special. There’s no particular purpose in stopping and looking other than to find out what is actually going on within and without. But what’s wrong with that? Maybe it is our results and purposes which are wrong. Who can judge?

As K always says about love: ‘if I love you because of what I stand to get out of it, it isn’t love’. So, similarly, if I am aware because I want to accumulate or gain something out of being aware, then it is not awareness. There may be something to be discovered, there may be a lot more to being aware than just a temporary stopping and looking, but this is not the primary reason why one is aware. One is aware simply because this is part of what it means to be human, to be a living thing.

So I am not human, not a living thing?

You’re aware enough to be writing in English and responding to a post about a subtle topic - so I think you’re at least partially aware! But perhaps you are not presently interested in what is involved in being aware, or your awareness is currently limited to your intellect, to what you are currently thinking about or debating about.

You could be, if you became interested in it, become aware of the chair you are sitting on, the feeling of sitting on something, the posture of your sitting; or you could become aware of the objects on your desk (if you are sitting at a desk) where you are reading this post or writing your reply. You could become aware, if it interested you, of the noises coming from outside, the distant sound of traffic during rush hour (in the UK people are returning home from work at around this time), or of the low rumbling of the boiler, etc. There is a virtual infinitude of sensory perceptions that are available to us in each moment if we are interested in giving them our attention.

And there is also the world inside: the world of my images of other people, the memory of yesterday’s conflict, yesterday’s happiness, the mental questions or doubts I have about what Krishnamurti meant by this or that, the things I have yet to do today, the food I need to cook, the images I have about who I am and what my future will be, etc. All of this and more is available to my awareness if I am interested to look - but it is one’s awareness which has to reveal this, not our thought-created hopes or fears or imaginations.

But naturally, this stopping and looking cannot be forced. It is available to us when there is interest, when we are curious or when we are spontaneously open for no particular reason, or when there is pain. We can also experiment with deciding to be aware - why not? Awareness can’t be faked: either one is aware or one is not aware. So one can experiment with attempting on purpose to be aware. But generally what results is a strained, strangulated partial awareness composed mostly of one’s mental thought processes and resistance. Even then, one can be curiously interested in what this strangulated mode of experiencing is!

But when I said that awareness has no purpose, all I meant was that it has no extrinsic purpose. One cannot manufacture a state of love. Similarly, one cannot force oneself to be interested if one feels bored. But one can be curious about what it feels like to be bored. Do you see what I mean?

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And you seem to be implying that I am not aware of these things,

One cannot manufacture a state of love.

Obviously, but one can have a beginner’s mind/open mind at any and every moment when one is aware of one’s conditioning, one’s images of others, hopes, fears, ambitions, etc.

Not at all Inquiry. I think you have misunderstood my intention. Your previous post originally quoted something I had said about awareness being something we do for itself, not something we do for a reward, to which you said “Does this mean that I am not aware?”

I took this to mean that for you such an awareness does not happen, or is not your experience. In answer to this I merely suggested that you, me, or anyone, has within reach a whole world of sensory and psychological perceptions of which we can become aware if we have an interest or curiosity. I wasn’t suggesting that you are not aware of anything, or judging you. I was writing in an exploratory manner, to open up the subject.

There was a post written by @voyager a while back that I feel is pertinent to this topic, which perhaps expresses better what I was trying, perhaps clumsily, to say:

The possibility of a deep perception lies in our normal, day to day, functioning of our senses and brain, otherwise no real insight would be possible.

We feel it’s so difficult to take place – if not impossible – only because we are not really interested in moving our focus from the allures of thought to the apparently boring ongoing perception. K defines this lack of interest as “not being serious”.

This is the most important discovery I made, and this discovery requires a great deal of honesty.

99% of my mental energy is used in the function of thought and in pursuing a quantity of goals, little and “great”, and in trying to get the things I like. Very [little] of it is left for a serious investigation and for staying with “what is”.

How can I claim to get anywhere in such a condition?

I feel this sums up the situation very simply and eloquently. This is how I feel about it for myself. I wasn’t intending to make a judgement about you in talking this way. Do you see what I mean now Inquiry?

Yes, I almost wrote that you were implying that I’m not serious (instead of not human).

Do you see what I mean now Inquiry?

Yes, I see what you mean.

It seems to me that we are all choicelessly aware, but conditioned to react to the choicelessness of awareness by giving greater importance to our chosen beliefs about what-should/should-not-be.

Because of giving greater importance to what we’ve concluded, what we presume to know about life and our environment, we’re usually in conflict with actuality. Every moment of awareness is a moment of what’s wrong or right with what we’re aware of.

Awareness of this condition prompts one to practice having beginner’s mind when the occasion calls for it until one is constantly doing it. It’s how one demonstrates to oneself how conditioned one is, how awareness is given less importance than what thought has wrought.

Yes, it’s a technique, a method, but so is studying K’s teaching until one “gets” it, and is able to live without it.

What did you feel about what Voyager wrote? To me it seemed to hit the nail on the head. That is, we spend most of our waking time and energy (99% as Voyager said) in thrall to our thinking and becoming, to our desire for pleasure or accumulation, to our thought-created world. And we barely have a moment to simply stop and look at what we are doing, or what is going on around us. I completely relate to this.

For me, this implies that I am not truly serious, as Voyager was saying. I don’t value ordinary everyday perception and awareness. I lack the beginner’s mind, the beginner’s attitude of openness and curiosity, fresh perceptual interest in the world within me and outside me.

I certainly wouldn’t say that

Far from it! We are partially and judgementally aware most of the time, preoccupied with secondary mental interests and problems, and so do not have inward leisure just to stop and look as though for the first time (the looking for the first time is choiceless looking). This is a major failing of human beings, which is probably why we have created such a stupid society.

So living merely in one’s thinking is a failure to live out one’s potential as a human being. We all have a potential for a broader, more expansive outlook, for being deeply sensitive, considerate, awake and attentive - and yet we generally do not value ordinary, moment by moment awareness, which is the soil out of which attention and insight grows. It just doesn’t interest us as much as our thinking interests us. Isn’t this so?

And yet in every moment there is a possibility of simply dropping one’s knowledge, dying to one’s memories, one’s ideas and conclusions, and looking afresh. This is an option that most of us don’t even realise we have.

It’s not a matter of practising anything. It’s not a method or technique. It is simply being interested in the within and without of life.

Anyway, I think I have said enough about it for now.

What do you feel about this @Sean ?

Hi James and all. I think you’re right that in every moment there’s a possibility of looking afresh.

For me, there are short glimpses of this. Whether it’s the face of a man on a train or the street as I’m walking along, there are moments of just seeing with a sense of newness and innocence. I’m probably fairly unaware most of the time though. Does this make sense to the rest of you?

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We went into this a while back when we were talking about awareness and you said we all have at least two seconds of awareness before our conditioning kicks in, and I agreed with this. It seems to me that awareness is what it is before our conditioning interferes and despoils it. But now you seem to be saying that there is no pure, choiceless, awareness before the brain’s conditioning reacts to it; that one is never really aware.

And yet in every moment there is a possibility of simply dropping one’s knowledge, dying to one’s memories, one’s ideas and conclusions, and looking afresh. This is an option that most of us don’t even realise we have.

An option is “the power or freedom to choose”. I’m not aware of having this option you describe. If you’re aware of having this option, are you choosing not to act on it?

Aren’t you interested in exploring into what it means to have a beginner’s mind?

For me, this means dropping our conclusions about it, letting go our strongly held opinions and beliefs, and just exploring what it means, as though for the first time.

If we say we cannot do this because we are conditioned, etc, this conclusion blocks the exploration, doesn’t it?

Similarly, if we say that awareness must be pure, or that it is always choiceless, or that “last year you said awareness was this or that and doesn’t this contradict what you are saying now”, and so on, don’t these conclusions in thought block investigation?

If we are interested in discovering what it means to be aware, surely we do not begin with conclusions, with strongly held assumptions, or argue back and forth about secondary issues, do we? Being aware is not an argument, it isn’t something to take sides over, or trade opinions for and against. It is something to explore, with open minded interest and curiosity, with one’s senses, with one’s heart, with one’s natural self awareness (or emotional intelligence).

I am not talking about the “power to choose”. I am not talking about practicing a technique. If I may point out, these are your own (mis)characterisations or (mis)interpretations of what I have been talking about. I am not looking to have an ideological debate about what it means to be aware: I am just wanting to explore the topic as though for the first time - if this interests you and others. If it doesn’t interest you, then that’s ok. But it interests me.

And for this reason I want to approach it as though for the first time, without too many presuppositions or assumptions. That’s all.

Even for the “know it all” person there is such possibility of looking afresh ?

  • I say yes. In which case, personally I look at such person with the same eyes I look at someone who admits he /she knows less.

Hi Crina, could you perhaps explain a little bit more what you mean here?

Obviously if we look with the eyes of knowledge we will not be able to look afresh. But what is your meaning when you say


Is the person you are referring to here (the person “I am looking at”) the person who is full of knowledge, or are you referring to a person who one sees on a train or on the street, as Sean was talking about in his post?

Yes, me too, but you come with presuppositions and assumptions such as the “option” we have to be free, the idea that we are not aware - not even for two seconds, etc,

If you’re exploring, why do you make statements that aren’t self-evidently or demonstrably true?

Exploring is posing questions - not making questionable statements.