The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose curiosity. ~ Albert Einstein
Are you curious? Do you wonder things? Do you question and ponder? Are you at times speechless at the sight of nature’s beauty?
Everything is constantly changing and therefore not one moment is exactly the same as another. So there is plenty to be curious about.
Experiencing things with an attitude of ‘beginner’s mind’ is very different from our ordinary way of seeing things, which is conditioned by old habits and perceptions.
However there is no such thing as ‘immaculate perception’.
Everything we experience is experienced through the filter of what we have experienced in the past. So curiosity is the attempt of a temporary suspension of our history. It brings a freshness and newness to life.
When we meet someone we know well, we can ask ourselves whether we see the person as she or he really is, or whether we merely see a reflection of what we (think we) already know about that person. In other words, are we seeing through the eyes of ‘re-cognition’ rather than with a freshness of curiosity?
‘Beginner’s mind’ means to break our usual, neurologically conditioned pigeon-hole way of experiencing our world. We use ‘non judging’ and apply ‘acceptance’ to get beyond the habitual interpretation.
WHY IS CURIOSITY IMPORTANT?
- For life quality – curiosity provides a richness; keeps our brains active and brings excitement into life. As Einstein said: ‘you can choose to see everything as a miracle or nothing as a miracle.’ When we start to see with curiosity, we notice how amazing life is.
- Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes our minds stronger and stronger.
- With an intent of curiosity we start to live more creatively, noticing new ideas and new ways of doing things.
- Curiosity has with it possibilities and potential focus, rather than risk and problems. In this way, an attitude of curiosity can reduce our negative rumination and focus on problems.
There is a new theory on depression that says that it is a ‘stuckness’ in the top layers of the brain cortex. So it is very likely that curiosity is a good antidote to depression.
HOW TO CULTIVATE CURIOSITY
‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.’ – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
We can start to realise how little we really know. In effect all we ever do is describe our experience. Niels Bohr said that there is no such thing as quantum physics, there is just our description of the way things are. We don’t really know how it works, we can just observe.
And so remind ourselves that all of our descriptions of reality are just temporary hypotheses.
In other words – let go of knowing – that’s real wisdom.
Coming to our senses
There is of course presence and exploration in curiosity, as we are with ‘what really is’ rather than with ‘our interpretation of what is’. Curiosity is coming back to our senses. We can use our senses to explore the moment with curiosity:
- What are the ears hearing?
- What are the eyes seeing?
- What is the nose smelling?
- What is the mouth tasting?
- What is the body sensing?
- What are the feelings feeling?
- What is the mind thinking?
With curiosity there is a suspension of judgment. Take the labeling of experiences – when you notice the mind labeling something as ‘boring’, notice it with curiosity and see if you can enquire and explore the subject or object with curiosity.
Please enjoy the sunrise photo taken in the Hunter Valley this week. Beauty and magic also brings us into the awe of curiosity.