Who do you look to for hints on how to better understand ourselves and the world around us?
I look to quantum physicists like Richard Feynmann (thank you to Chuck Miller for the intro!) and John Gribbin to find new insights into the nature of reality. And then there are the neuroscientists who use functional MRIs to show us the changes in the brain before and after meditation and to remind us that neuroplasticity, the ability for us to constantly shape our brain, is real! And that behavior is the primary driver of functional and structural changes in the brain! So indeed, ‘abhyasa’ ‘abhyasa’, ‘abhyasa’ (practice, practice, practice!).
Then there are the anatomists, biochemists, physiologists, geneticists, ayurvedic doctors and other experts who remind us that not all bones and bodies and bodily systems are the same.
But wait, lets not forget the philosophers like Lao Tsu and Shunryu Suzuki who remind us that true understanding defies logic and explanation and that a prerequisite in the journey to understanding is shoshin (初心), ‘beginner’s mind’.
Ok so these are probably the more obvious ones but how about the teachings from say the world of vocal training and singing? Master teachers like Cheryl Porter have so much to share on the topic of breath control, resonance, pitch and the list goes on. If you have an interest in chanting mantra or singing devotional songs, there is a treasure trove in these teachings!
And finally, perhaps the least obvious teachings come from the people all around us. Directly and indirectly, we have a lot to be thankful for to the people around us. Through their words and actions (and inaction!), we have an opportunity to learn alternative, potentially better ways of living. From simple everyday hints like how to use lemon juice to get a stain out of our clothes to how to spot an online (or telephone ‘ore ore’) scam artist. The world around us offers us a host of ideas there for the taking!
So as the Zen Masters tell us, let’s empty our cups and be open to good teachings from all around.
Hints on how to better understand ourselves are all around us. Who do you look to?