The Beginner’s Mind

Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

All the spiritual traditions of which I’m aware contain a form of the concept of the beginner’s mind.

The quote from Jesus popped up in my current reading. I paused to contemplate.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

I remembered a joke from a boy’s magazine from my early adolescent period. Two farmers were talking one day. One says, “My son went off to university and got a BS and then an MS and now he is getting a Ph.D.” The other replied, “What’s that?” “Well,” said the first farmer, “I guess it’s like this. You know what BS is. MS is More of the Same. And PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper.”

Now, I don’t want to disparage all people who have earned a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree. I have friends who earned that degree and are brilliant and useful in their fields. I’m currently listening to the podcasts of Dr. Andrew Huberman who has a PhD in neuroscience yet retains insatiable curiosity about many things.

Yet, I’ve known countless people with advanced degrees without the sense to come in from the rain. Their heads got so choked with what they know that there is no room for learning.

There are many whose heads are so full of what they know that there is no room for learning, no curiosity, they know it all–and they have no degrees. It works in many ways.

Like a child, like a beginner, our minds need to be open and curious ready to take in new experiences and new understanding. I loved taking walks with my grandson when he was a toddler. He would stop and explore many things–bugs, worms, leaves, whatever was there. I hoped he would never lose that attitude toward life.

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