Love Is Always Beginning

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.      Shunryu Suzuki

This is one of those quotes that encompasses all of the Buddha’s teachings. Simple. But not so easy to practice in the age of commercialized media-driven distraction. As one who does not do social media (other than these Dharma Journal moments), I am able to observe the effects of things like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc., as a disinterested party. I see how social media parrots whatever is in the mind of the participants. Unfortunately, it skews to the darker, negative sides of human interaction.

Since the negative, dramatic aspects of our interactions get the most attention and are made into a marketable commodities, the algorithms driving the media favor the negative. Of course, this tends to happen in our own minds anyway. We do not realize our dramas paint us into little corners of the boxes of our creation. Buddha suggested we see the delusion of the box and rest in openness.

Neuroscientists give a term to this openness, or empty, adaptable nature of our mind. They call it neuroplasticity, the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. These changes range from individual neuron pathways making new connections, to systematic adjustments like cortical remapping. In other words, we can completely change our minds! The work is to access the unlimited adaptable mind and encourage it to redevelop under a positive influence.

As I mentioned in the previous journal entry, we can infuse the open mind with compassionate thoughts through the practice of mantras and visualization. With practice, we redraw the map of our brain. It takes the form of our intention—if we remain single-pointed in our intention. This is the essential process of meditation: reconnecting with the open, empty, limitless mind—and flavoring it with love.

In matters of love, we are always beginners. Loving kindness and compassion are innately unchained to limited thinking. Love is a shape-shifter, always adopting the form that will be most beneficial in the moment. If we remap our brain under the influence of our emptiness nature, all things are possible. We walk the world as a bodhisattva, literally, an ‘awakened (compassionate) being’.

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