“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” -Rachel Carson (1907-1964) American writer and conservationist
Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927-2004) called this “don’t know mind.” He would ask his students questions such as “What is love? What is consciousness? Where did your life come from? What is going to happen tomorrow?” Each time, the students would answer, “I don’t know.” “Good,” Seung Sahn replied. “Keep this ‘don’t know mind.’ It is an open mind, a clear mind.”
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1970) is a classic introduction by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971)
Practice: Don't Know Mind
Sit quietly and easily, focusing on your breath or body. When you feel settled, bring to mind a time ten years ahead. Recognize that you don’t know what will happen then. Feel the not knowing and relax with it. Think of the earth spinning through space with hundreds of thousands of people being born and dying every day. Where does each life come from? How did it start? There are so many things we don’t know. Feel the truth of don’t know mind, relax and become comfortable with it.
Now, bring to mind a conflict, inner or outer. Be aware of all the thoughts and opinions you have about how it should be, about how they should be. Now recognize that you don’t really know. Maybe the wrong thing will lead to something better. You don’t know.
Consider how would it be to approach yourself, the situation, the other people with don’t know mind. Feel it. Don’t know. Not sure. No fixed opinion. Allow yourself to want to understand anew. Approach it with don’t know mind. With openness. How does don’t know mind affect the situation? Does it improve it, make it wiser, easier? More relaxed?
Practice don’t know mind until you are comfortable resting in uncertainty, until you can do your best and laugh and say “Don’t know.”