A few years ago I read a book called "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice by Shunryu Suzuki. Now some people may wonder why the pastor of a Baptist church would read books on Zen meditation. I read them for the same reason I listen to Penn Gillette, Christopher Hitchens, Jesse Ventura and C.T. Fletcher; they challenge my thinking and force me to expand my limited knowledge base.
In his prologue, Suzuki states, "In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means "beginner's mind". The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind...in the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have attained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.
This same thought is key to being a follower of Jesus as we see examples of the beginner's mind in the gospels. In Matthew Chapter 8 we read a story of a Roman army officer who asks Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus said that he would come and heal him, the officer said, that he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his house. He further told Jesus, just say the word and my servant will be healed. No laying on of hands, no praying, no lighting a candle; just say the word and my servant will be healed. Jesus replied that he had never seen such faith then said Go, it will be done just as you believed it would. And his servant was healed at that very hour.
Just as we have to work on keeping our imagination as we grow older, we must also work at keeping our beginner's mind as we follow the way of Jesus. A beginner's mind has faith so great that nothing is impossible. God's power is limitless and no matter what we are up against, he will see us through. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few. Fight to keep the beginner's mind.