New Year's greetings to all! 2016 is a "9" when you reduce the number, and 9 is the number for completion. What this means is the old way of thinking is coming to an end. What is meant by this is that much of the dark dense thinking of the old generations past will finally fade out, but not without a fight. Interestingly enough, it is also the year of the red fire monkey so there will still be a lot of fireworks on the planet, but overall the new consciousness will rise and the old will fade out. When you see any events of the old man's inhumanity to mankind don't let it defeat your spirit and will of staying positive about the future. In zen there is a concept known as the beginner's mind, and in the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few. So I tell even my longest training students to keep the beginner's mindset, as when you think you know what's going, that's when you get stuck; it is very important to keep learning and expanding one's insights. The beginner's mind - "shoshin" - is always open and ready with a positive attitude. All too often the expert's mind is closed thinking: they have attained something where the beginner has no thought of attaining anything so they are not self-centered, which can be very limiting. The compassionate original mind is boundless, which keeps us true to ourselves and is in empathy with all other beings. This is the real secret of the arts to keep a beginner's mind when learning advanced information. We breathe in an intention and breathe out an inspiration and when we breathe in the intention to formulate an outer application it is that beginner's mindset that will be open clear and unfettered as will the response; whereas the so-called old experienced mind may be full of bias and prejudice, which can delude one into making the wrong response because they think they know. In the martial arts the beginner's mind is the point of awareness where we see the present moment fresh and as it is as a starting point to make good decisions. The mantra for you this year is to keep the simplicity in the complexity with your original beginner's mind staying in the moment with full awareness of what is, not what someone or something is saying what it is. Keep the immune system strong and chakras bright with a clear, unfettered mind and the year will go your way. All the best to you and yours for a good year. 2016 the year of Shoshin. More on these concepts in next month's note.