John Flynn, PhD, MSW and Phoebe S. Prosky, MSW
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)….
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.
The singular importance of these words for the Zen perspective is signaled by the fact that this is the opening sentence of the prologue of S. Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1994). The statement startles because it runs against the current of our usual thinking about beginners and experts. Suzuki is saying that the beginner's mind is something that the expert mind is not. The beginner is ready for fresh possibilities, whereas the expert lacks this sort of readiness; the expert has the sense that things are more finished.
In our usual way of thinking, the beginner's openness to possibility is a sign of ignorance, of not knowing, of inexperience. The expert, on the other hand, knows how to read the situation and what to do about it. The