This Fourth of July was very tarnished for me.  I used to think that we had a great country and we will always be strong and brave and free and that’s what we celebrated on the Fourth of July — Independence Day.

I feel our country is exploding or imploding and there is no solid ground for all of us to stand on.  Maybe there never was, but we are at least seeing the truth right now.  I feel that the swirling of what is Truth, Right or Wrong into new and unfamiliar contexts and settings are dizzying at best and self-destructive at worst.  

I’m an elder and my experience of living in this country and this beautiful state and this world is based on living for 7 decades.  You will have a different perspective because You are You —and that is just as important.  We are all unique and have our own views and beliefs and we need to learn how to honor each other.  And, we need to have rules by which we can live safely and peacefully together.  Can you remember a time in your life when the world was so heated and confusing as it is right now?  

Oh, yes!  COVID.  We have experienced something like this just recently and we all survived or we didn’t.

We learned how to live with fear and death happening all around us and we learned something important about who we are and what is important to us.  Didn’t we?  Did you?

So, now I ask you—What did you learn those Covid years in your life that you can apply to this next scenario we are facing in our country, in our lives, in our families?  

I don’t want to give you a prescription.  You have all the answers inside of you. You already have been in this place before probably many times in your life.  Can you face this moment with a sense of self-awareness and groundedness in who you are and what you know or do not know.  Sometimes, we need to apply our strength of self even when we don’t know.

Not-knowing is a basic attitude of mindfulness.  In Zen Buddhism it’s called “not-knowing” and it means the same thing as “Beginner’s Mind,” another attitude I’ve talked about before.  An expert may know a subject deeply, yet be blinded to new possibilities by his or her preconceived ideas. In contrast, a beginner may see with fresh, unbiased eyes.  In other words, when you stay grounded in your own body and your own experience of life, you can trust that each new situation will be no different than the other—you will approach it with the same openness that you approached the last moment and the one before that.  It’s when we discount our bodily experience and let our minds take over that things get way out of reality.  

Beginner’s Mind or Not- Knowing can be your guide forever.  It is a practice honed from deep mindfulness practice or any kind of stillness practice that allows you to bring your physical, emotional and cognitive parts into stillness or oneness.  You develop this attitude from practice.  So, I’ve suggested that you consider this month’s practice of Mountain Meditation as the best practice to hone this attitude deep inside your soul.

From this place, you can get tossed and turned and blown by the winds and storms of life all around you, but you—the Mountain—remain strong, still and unwavering.

“What is Practice?  Everywhere, nothing is hidden”  Eihei Dogan