Do you know what the word “shoshin” means? It means “a beginner’s mind,” referring to possessing “an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject just as a beginner would.”
As the older sister, I did not always maintain shoshin with my younger brother Andy, especially when it came to him learning to play a musical instrument. It became a standard routine for the first several months of him learning. Coming home from school, Andy would go upstairs to his bedroom and practice playing his alto saxophone. Rhythmically, the same, one note—being played over and over again—could be heard throughout our entire house. Driving me crazy, I recall asking aloud, “Will he ever move to another note?” As time passed, though, he moved onto other notes, becoming quite the musician of our family. Reflecting upon this experience, I realize that, during that period in my life, I wore blinders, focusing only on my own frustration with hearing the same note and not noticing the growth in my brother’s musical ability.
This is what can happen when we encounter new people both professionally and personally. We put on blinders when we form opinions about others within moments of first encountering them, instead of over time. Consequently, we do not always comprehend the reason for their behavior. It is as if we only hear the few notes of their response instead of the tunes from their perspectives in life.
So, from now on, may each of us possess “a beginner’s mind,” maintaining a fresh, open perspective in every encounter with which we partake.
God, help us all have shoshin today and forever more. Amen.