honoring the “fool” in us and choosing “beginner’s mind”

Hello world.  Welcome to my first blog.

I was born on April 11, and I thought it apropos to post the first installment of my blog the Monday after my actual birthday. It seems customary for the bloggers that I’ve followed to write something special for their birthday.  So here goes.

Before moving on, why do I call myself a “life change artist?”  The term comes from Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan who wrote the book Becoming a Life Change Artist, c 2010.  When I read the book, I felt they were talking about me and the process I go through to navigate life’s changing courses, change gears in midlife, and create a joyful life. The term spoke to me, myself being an artist, a creative intuitive and a maven/connector as well. Essentially, the creative process used by great artists is the same process as in making a life change, including the creative skills needed in both. These creative skills can be learned, as I have found and will share through my stories and compendium of resources in the blogs to come.

New beginnings. Set intentions. This is my first shot at blogging and putting out my message out into the global sphere. The period in which my birthday falls is a very important period to everyone, according to my astrology teacher and friend, Stephanie Austin. It’s the first in the twelve spokes of a spinning wheel that represents our never-ending life journey. From the culture where I grew up, people from my mother’s generation would start new phases in life (such as a wedding or a new project) when the moon is waxing.  I have been following this tradition, a legacy from my mother, with a few tweaks of my own. This current period is particularly crucial this year due to huge planetary alignments and the new moon. Stephanie states in her April new moon forecast: This is a very important time to set intentions and to hold “Beginner’s Mind.” We’ve never been here before. Like the Fool card in the Tarot, like the hero in Avatar, we step into what looks like thin air and find new ground beneath our feet. Letting go of our preconceptions and “shoulds” enables us to find new solutions to old problems. We are surrounded by boundless possibilities. Embrace the mystery of the present moment. Take one step at a time. Be willing to not know, and remember that there is no failure, only learning. *

The archetype of the Fool (trickster or clown) has received a lot of flack from us because it represents the idiot side of us, the one that uncannily exposes our ignorance, lack of finesse, shams or lies due to its instinctive, crude, self-centered or mischievous conduct. Here’s what author Tony Crisp** has to say about the fool archetype: “The undeveloped, idiot side of this symbol may have a type of clear-sightedness due to lacking the complications and contradictions of thinking and intellectual values. It also may be creative in a serendipitous sort of way. Because it doesn’t seriously hold onto a purpose or idea, this side of our nature may lead us to something new, a change of direction.”  In most parts of the world, April 1st has been designated as the Fool’s day; it’s no wonder that we celebrate the fool during the astrological period of beginnings and initiation. Charlie Chaplin is a modern image of this crazy, unpredictable yet wise clown.  It’s a state of mind that can benefit us. Read on.

There is an adage espoused by the Zen masters, which has been adopted by so many modern traditions and modalities, that speaks to honoring the fool in us: Beginner’s Mind. Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki aptly sums it up: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are a few.” Many times we dread to start over even when we know that there is a need to. For instance, our tower of past accomplishment (e.g., career) has fallen and we fear starting from the bottom again; or we believe we are an expert and we can’t be go back to the first rung of learning (duh), until we’re forced to by uncanny circumstances.  Adopting a beginner’s mind could then be easier said than done, but once we understand how we can achieve the state of mind, we pass the first hurdle.  Take a look at the simple tips below offered by Mary Jaksch, a Zen Master, to achieve a Beginner’s Mind.  I have taken the liberty to summarize them here (no copyright permission required from blogger Leo Babauta for this). ***

  • Take one step at a time without worrying about the journey.
  • Fall down seven times, get up eight times.  Celebrate falling down as well as getting up; it’s all part of learning.
  • Use “Don’t Know” mind. It leaves room for intuition. Letting go of knowing is real wisdom.
  • Live without “should.” And own your life.
  • Make use of experience.  Utilize your native wisdom and experience.
  • Let go of being an expert. It enables you to keep learning.
  • Experience the moment fully. Live to the full – one moment at a time. Disregard common sense. And become creative.
  • Discard fear of failure.  Immerse yourself in your actions and forget the watchers.
  • Use the spirit of enquiry. Focus on questions, not answers.

Easy?  Some of us have done one, two, or many of the above at one time in our life.

With this, I leave you with my favorite quote from Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

How does changing how we see things honor the fool in us and open the door to beginner’s mind? How does having “new eyes” change our life, or help us make a purposeful change or a wiser/informed decision?

Let’s have a conversation.  If you like what you’ve read, I invite you to share your thoughts and comments. (Click “Leave a Reply” below or click on the comment bubble beside the blog title).


*For more on Stephanie Austin, check out her website http://www.ecoastrology.com

** For more on Tony Crisp: http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/archetype-of-trickster-clown-and-the-fool/

***You will find the full script of the Beginner’s Mind tips in http://zenhabits.net/how-to-live-life-to-the-max-with-beginners-mind/

23 thoughts on “honoring the “fool” in us and choosing “beginner’s mind”

  1. Congratulations Alara on this new venture for you! Very informative and enjoyed reading it. Continued success with your blog.

  2. Congratulations, Alara. Pretty intense stuff. The idea seem simple and easy but so scary.
    If there is any one person I know who will venture to do such, it will be you, who is unafraid and adventurous. Me, I’m a scaredy-cat who wallows in my comfort zone and daydreams of the past and longs for forgotten friends. All I can do is just wonder what if…?
    Can’t wait to read more of your blogs.

    • Hi, Myra. Thanks so much for your kind words and for believing in my adventurous spirit. I admire your candor and for being so open; it’s a very good starting point actually. As they say, when we’re ready, the teacher comes (in various costumes, forms and formats). Any change is scary, so you’re not alone. I have lots of stories about making shifts, some of them scary and had me stuck for a long time. I hope that you will get inspiration from what I share and write to follow whatever path your heart will lead you to during this next exciting phase of your life. I am honored to be part of a continuing conversation with you. If you wish to be notified via email each time I post a new article, I invite you to register for notification in the “Follow me” link on the right hand side of my blog. Also, please feel free to share my blog information with other friends. The more readers, the merrier the conversation. Thanks again.

  3. Wonderful first blog, Auntie 🙂 I love the insights you shared and the tips are helpful. Congratulations on your blog!

  4. I find your blog quite profound and full of insights. Hopefully, visiting ur site will develop my “insightfulness”. I realize the importance of having a beginner’s mind…It helps us: in feeling young (again), in being creative at work and even at home as well as in enjoying the moment…I think, I have been practicing having a beginner’s mind in the past, without me knowing it…Thanks…for your new blogsite…Very informative..

    • Hi, Malou – Thank you for your positive feedback and letting me know how my blog site is benefitting you. You are such a delight and it seems you practice mindfulness in your daily life. Yes, beginner’s mind is a great way to be mindful too. I hope to share more stories about mindfulness as a way to develop self knowledge. When we pay attention to our current experience (big or small) in a non-judgmental way, we create joy and meaning in our lives. Hope you come back for more. Better yet, sign up for post notification via email. 🙂 Thanks again.

  5. Hi Alara—-Your blog is full of insight. I enjoyed every bit of it. I am definitely on a path to “see with new eyes.” Look forward to your update.

  6. Wow, Alara! This is a great blog. Insightful and thought-provoking. Resurrecting my memories of high school days, I recall you had not only been very pretty with luscious long black hair and clear skin, you had exemplary oratorical skills, your memory phenomenal and I should have realised that you had amazing literary skills as well. Beauty and brains! Kudos, friend! And more power. I’m sure you will be a huge success in this venture of yours. Awaiting the next one.

    • Hi, Stefani – thank you very much for your kind words. You are a delightful revelation yourself! I haven’t seen you since high school, but your writing (mostly from FB) reflects a woman who is living her life with passion and panache, besides being a successful career woman. Thanks to technology and the internet, we have a place for conversation across the miles. Please keep sharing your insights – we are moving to our “sage” time, one where we must now speak of the wisdom we have gathered through the years. I hope this blog site can provide that forum for you. Looking forward to rewarding conversations through this blog with you and other kindred spirits. My next installment will be Monday and possibly also Wednesday or Thursday. I encourage you to register for email notification so you won’t miss anything (check out the “Follow Me” area on the right side of the blog). Thanks again.

  7. ThanQ, Alara! This is great ,i’nit? Thanx indeed to technology and cybernet .. they are a godsend … we can colloquise across the miles. I wish all our classmate are FB members and could access this blog so we could all go down memory lane about high school in good old Lepanto as well as talk about how we got to where we are at at this stage of our “sage” (hehe I like that) lives. Right now, I can count us on the fingers of one hand, no two kadi ;-)…. you me, Lito, Slim, Danilo Orpilla, Jane (Juana) Domogan Lee, Amalia San Pedro, Myra, Cristeta, Rosalie Dulay Riparip.
    Done. I registered. I wondered why I didn’t get a notification of your reply. It’s because I didn’t register right from the start. Duh! I had to come back here to check. 🙂

  8. Hello, Aunt Alara! Great first foray into the blogosphere. Very appropriate as a starting point. In a world that puts so much premium on expertise and specialization, we often forget the stuff we are made of. We started out as simple organisms that evolved into the beings we are today–hungrier than ever, of what, we scarcely even know. We hardly go back to the basics, the things that really matter. I remember a story about John Wooden, one of the great football coaches. At the beginning of every season, he assembled his players, pulled out a football from a bag and said: “Guys, this is a football.” You can’t get any more fundamental than that. It’s time I went back to the hills. Congratulations! Keep ’em coming!

    • Dear Neil/Samboy – Many thanks for your inspiration. This conversation is interesting and lively – this is why I forayed into blogging. You are an articulate writer yourself, so I encourage you to consider blogging on one of your favorite topics. Consider making comments in various blogs that you like and start conversations like this. Looking forward to more conversations with you.

      • Thanks, Auntie! I do love to write. Writing is an outlet for me. I knew that since high school. I bought a book about starting a blog some years back. Now if only I can find it. I actually started a book, or what looks like one. Now if only I can find the time to complete it. Aha! That’s a good topic right there. If only. Looking forward to your next one.

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