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/