I can’t wait to meet our newest bun in the oven. My peace around this next stage is understanding where Kaya fits in – the big sister, the inspiration, the teacher. Kaya, our only child, is hitting amazing notes of language development, taking kinesthetic leaps, and starting to interface with the world around her as a sentient-cognitive being. It’s an unbelievable process witnessing her mind develop, transition and emerge. The process has been brisk. It is also warming; it has also presented up the Buddhist ideal of the “beginner’s mind”, or shoshin. This is shoshin: 初心 – as written (by computer) in Japanese.
There are lots of ideas, books, theorems that have been born in the womb of this quality. You can read your cerebellum blue about the idea. You can meditate the idea into a form and quality you desire, but I believe that you will fall short until you engage in the empirical experience. There is nothing greater than acting on what you believe. The way to discover shoshin is to be a parent.
The empirical becomes the instigator, the teacher. Clearly Kaya sees a big belly. She even feels kicks every once in a while. Is she aware of the idea of pregnancy? My undergraduate and graduate science professors would all laugh at me if I said yes. Pregnancy is a complex idea, one that’s not child’s play. I agree (I’m not really sure if I totally understand it…) – but there’s still room for another level of understanding – the fundamental one.
Kaya senses something. Even if she can’t define it, she senses it. A change, a bump. She sees the pregnancy. She may not understand what she sees, but she is invested and interested. This is the utmost expression of shoshin. To see but not to know. To let knowing “wait”. As adults, professionals, scientists and artists we then take that moment and within microseconds start to convert it into constructs and ideas that fit into our realm of understanding. Our mind fills with: “wow she’s big, or is it a boy or girl, or I wonder if she’s eating well”. Kaya has little of this “construct” and she simply sees, with beginners mind. She sees a shape, feels a kick – and from here her experience begins (and maybe ends depending on her disposition to buddhism).
The key question: How to do take the time to “wait”. It’s really nearly impossible to stop the cavalcade of ideas and concepts that fill our mind once we see a “pregnant lady” for example. I think this is the critical moment when (and where) we can make those enormous leaps in understanding and in art. How do we get there and stay there long enough to have shoshin guide our creative process? Is it even possible? I don’t know, but I do know that Kaya is helping me confront and embrace this.
And here is shoshin in its true calligraphic glory. Japanese language is beautiful.