Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

go home!

There’s an article on the Tricycle website about ‘original nature,’ and the Buddhist saying ‘return to your original state.’ I like to think the admonition is more like ‘Go home!’

Because that’s what it is, our original nature — whatever that means. It’s where it all began, where it all ends. It’s the home stretch, home base, going home.


The word comes from the Old Norse, among other origins, where one version means ‘world’ as well as well as home residence. And that, to me, is perfect Buddhism & beginner’s heart.

Yesterday a student in my class said he has little patience w/ national identities and cultures. We should be more concerned with being humans together, he said. The world is our home, he argued. Not a single country. Not any more.

And while I understand what he’s saying, I love my home. I love the Abraham Darby roses coming back from the horrific summer (the hottest in American weather records, anywhere). I love the bees that buzz the bird bath as I fill it, waiting for me to finish so they can drink. I love the honeyed afternoon light that spills through the window beside my desk as I write.


But I also love each of the many places I’ve lived around the world: a villa on a street in a former French colony; a tiny 3rd floor walk-up in a hotel in Algiers; a small house on a small lot in a city built by oil, in Saudi Arabia. And of course my grandmother’s one-bedroom house with sleeping porch, with the mimosa hanging over the front curb. Not only is each a part of me, but something of me remains in each of them, walks the rooms still.

That’s how I interpret the ‘Go home!’ command. The world is my home — perhaps because I’ve been an expatriate for much of my life. I’ve made gardens in deserts, in the tropics, outside rentals in bad neighbourhoods, in my dreams and even my nightmares.


The article in Tricycle says that original nature is like a gong, like the one my father brought back from Africa. From the bottom, a gong looks like a bell. But from the top it’s obviously a gong. Although it rings, like a bell… So home is then and now, gong and bell, with that lovely metal music each one sings.

Beginner’s heart is going home — back to that first look we give the world that will be the home where we live, at birth. We open our eyes, as my newly born sons did in my exhausted arms, and here we are. Home.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. Get back home. Nice thought, isn’t it?



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