Be open minded

What does the term ‘open minded’ really mean? We all hear that to be ‘open minded’ is a good thing, yet we tend to turn the idea of open-mindedness into yet another goal we need to accomplish, as if it is some new self-improvement project, something else that we need to achieve.

Adyashanti shared these thoughts in his book, “Falling into Grace”, and he said:

“Open-mindedness comes naturally as we begin to see the ways that we argue with our experience, with events that are in fact immovable and unchangeable. Of course, the next moment may be very different, but this moment is as it is and any moment in the past is as it was. This is a very simple concept, but it’s very difficult to let in because it’s so contrary to what we’ve been taught. The conventional worldview involves a constant state of evaluation and judgment. We are even praised for being able to debate and judge. We’re constantly saying to ourselves what should and shouldn’t be, what we like and we don’t like. We can open the door and it could be raining, and we might say, ‘Oh gosh! I hate the rain! It shouldn’t be raining! I hate rainy days!’ At that moment, we are in opposition with reality. Reality is simply it is raining; that is what’s real. If we argue with it, if we judge it, then we’re at odds with life. In many unconscious ways we’re taught that if we don’t argue with what is, then somehow we aren’t doing our jobs as human beings.”

But, what is the effect of our constant judgment and evaluation of what was and what is? What effect does this have on us, both individually and collectively? Does it actually lead us to peace? Does it actually lead us to sanity? And most importantly, is it even true? Is it actually true that this moment should be different than it is? Is it actually true that the past should have been different than it was?

Adyashanti added: “When we begin to open our minds, we see that this continuous state of evaluation actually leads to suffering. It is when we clearly see this that we can begin to have the capacity to let it go. When our minds start to open, we’re no longer in a constant state of evaluation and judgment. Naturally, then, our senses open – and we can really see what is before us. Our eyes open in a different way, our hearing opens in a different way, our emotions open, our hearts open to all of existence. We see how judging and condemning actually close our hearts and harden us to the experience of life and others. Open-mindedness allows us to embrace the nature of our experience. This doesn’t mean that we have to like every experience that we have. There are experiences that are painful; there are experiences that are unpleasant. Open-mindedness doesn’t mean that we’re just opening to the good parts of life; it means we’re opening to everything. And this is when we start to discover a type of inner stillness, an inner stability, that vast unchanging expanse that is at the heart of everything.”

My most recent encounter with reality is when I was hit with a cold, sore throat, blocked nose, soreness around my hips and knees, all within the first day of Chinese New Year; a day when I would usually get up early for my morning run and a hearty breakfast to start off the ‘New Year’. I could have argued about the ’shoulds and shouldn’ts’ about falling sick and getting injured, and it wouldn’t have gotten me closer to getting better. I could have whined about not getting enough training and preparation especially with a couple of sporting events coming up in the next few weeks. Instead I chose to embrace fully all that I’d experienced that day – the pains and discomfort, and accepting everything as it is. And when I stopped ‘fighting with what is’, I found myself in a state of being which has a sense of inner peace and calmness in the midst of this ‘turmoil’.

I am resting and letting my body recover fully but I am no longer besieged with the ‘woe is me’ mindset – knowing that by accepting everything as it is, I have allowed my mind to be open to everything that life offers to me, and living it to the fullest.

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