This is the fifth in a series of topics from the seminal book on Zen: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. I’m going chapter by chapter and offering my thoughts on the subject Suzuki addresses. You should definitely check out Suzuki’s book. It has changed many lives.
None of us have perfect serenity all the time. In fact, most of us have never experienced perfect serenity, or perhaps had it only fleetingly. All this talk of “big mind” and letting things go sounds nice in theory, but the practice is often very difficult.
It’s easy to let that discourage us. At the very least, we consider the thoughts that disturb our practice as bad. They are impediments.
These are often referred to as mind weeds.
Real wisdom dissipates these mind weeds by being grateful for them. In the long run, they will enrich your path toward a more mindful life.
The Zen metaphor is that you will pull these weeds and plant them next to the plant of your mind to nourish it. Put simply, pushing through these weeds will enrich your practice and make it stronger. It’s not that you need to get rid of the weeds. It’s more like you will encompass and absorb them.
This is something that is philosophically difficult and really much more about practice. When you have experienced the nourishment mind weeds can give you, you understand the process. When you have not had this happen, you guess at what it must be, and in fact this striving can be dangerous.
Mind weeds necessitate the effort towards mindfulness. This is the process of renewing your practice. You try at your practice, perhaps in meditation, and eventually you get caught by your mind weeds. You can curse those mind weeds, or try to get rid of them. Or you can renew your practice.