Beginner’s Mind

Julie/ July 11, 2023/ Paul Brenner, MD, PhD

(Though no longer here in person, Dr. Brenner is still here in spirit. Please enjoy this lovely musing he shared with us.)

The mind can stimulate the brain to produce neuropeptides and hormones. These chemicals, aptly called, ‘molecules of emotions’ by Candace Pert, are the creator of ‘our feelings.’ We then label these strong feelings as good, bad, pain, fear, distrust, etc. In truth, these chemicals have no names. Words, music, sounds, feelings, taste, etc., are all electro-chemical.

The brain does not have a dictionary filled with words, synonyms, or antonyms. The brain does not hold pictures of the past, the brain does not name! The brain simply takes what the mind perceives, translates perceptions into binary impulses that are sorted out as information, and stored in various memory centers, as to its perceived importance to survival.

The nuance of words too often disrupts relationships and leads to unfounded judgments, comparisons, needs, and stress. Words divided Life into a zillion disparate parts. Our beliefs shape our reality, and define who and what we are as individuals and groups.

As human beings, we can take the Zen Path, the middle road, in which we have choice. We can just feel, without naming or defining, as in ‘beginner’s mind’ and respond to life experiences. We can learn from single celled organisms, which expand in a safe environment, and contract or withdraw in an unfavorable one. In such a state of presence, beauty and music could fill our lives without the need for our opinions or beliefs.

Without judgment, comparison, desire, etc., we would be sentient beings with unstructured consciousness. We would move toward the awareness of that which resonated within our unique biological being, and feel safe in that knowledge.