The Beginner’s Mind; Finding Your Way Back; Dropkin’s Spin of the Wheel; Russell’s 8th Commandment; Humbled by Beauty in the Universe

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 5:16 am

The Beginner’s Mind; Finding Your Way Back; Dropkin’s Spin of the Wheel; Russell’s 8th Commandment; Humbled by Beauty in the Universe

Each week I write a weekly column that captures a tiny bit of what’s beautiful and intriguing in this world. If you’d like to receive it in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

(Jesus Solana / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

Just love this photo of ponds in the Arctic. Unfortunately, I didn’t take it. Thank goodness for NASA. It was a perfect lead-in image for Parker Palmer’s reflection on the growing edge of the beginner’s mind (heads-up: includes an adorable photo of him with his granddaughter):

“I want to practice what Buddhists call ‘beginner’s mind’ — a vital corrective to the cynicism that comes when we let life’s hard realities darken our vision and diminish our imagination. It’s a way of looking at the world that makes fresh starts possible in everything: our personal lives, our work lives, even our political lives.”

BTW, check out Parker’s response to a reader’s pithy question on our Facebook page, “There are still Quakers?” Perfect.

The BICEP2 telescope at twilight, which occurs only twice a year at the South Pole. The MAPO observatory (home of the Keck Array telescope) and the South Pole station can be seen in the background. (Steffen Richter / Harvard University.)

How does one leave home in peace? Guest contributor Shari Motro reflects on how we all can find our way back, using the abundant lessons of the relationship between Pharaoh and Moses in the Exodus story. On the other side of it all, forgiveness and gratitude resides:

“This is the paradox. When we finally break free, our glee is often tinged with something else, with a sinking recognition of the grief of those we have left behind. And… surviving requires not allowing ourselves to drown in their tears. Surviving is rejoicing despite their pain.”

And, earlier this week, I posted another guest commentary on our deepest impulses. This time, by Susan Cooke Kittredge from Vermont, who offers this lovely commentary on the universe’s magnificence and its ability to leave us struck dumb with awe and humility.

(Stephen D / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

Submit your essays and commentaries, photos, and videos. Reading and publishing your many perspectives is an absolute privilege — as you’ll see next week!

With the Heartbleed bug, the On Being Tumblr took a hit. So I took it as an opportunity to give it a new look. I particularly like how it displays music tracks… like this soothing bit of piano perfection by Claudio Arrau playing Chopin’s “Nocturne No. 19 in E Minor.” It’s gorgeous and you won’t regret it.

More from our Bertrand Russell series of photoquotes. This time commandment #8:

“Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.”

I’ll leave you with this poem from poet Celia Dropkin, which comes to you by way of Edward Hirsch’s articulate insights on the Yiddish poet’s legacy:

A Spin of the Wheel
I gambled my life’s calm
for a spin of the wheel,
and I don’t regret it.
Does it matter what a flower dies of—​
autumn, a storm wind.
And you, my storm wind,
are a zealous playboy
and even death at your hands is dear.

Send your greetings and your critiques at, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

Share Post


is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Share Your Reflection