Beginners Mind

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Suzuki

We  think that the experts have all the answers, but tend to forget that the novice holds all the good questions. Maybe being an expert doesn’t mean having many answers; maybe being an expert is about having fewer: The right answers. Tried and tested,  validated, legitimate .

During a lifetime of practice the expert weed out the unlikely possibilities, seal off the cracks and narrow their field down to  a determinable structure, a maze of which they are the masters and guides. They do that because it’s the only way to consistently predict outcomes and come up with solutions. But something is lost along the way.

This is especially evident within the expert systems of our society such as the fields of law or medicine. Only a complete beginner would commit the fallacy of confusing the woes and merits of the person with the case of a client or patient. The experts knowledge is sharpened by, is the product of, omission; not inclusion. It is by the relentless cutting of possibilities that the expert achieve their familiarity with their field.

Can we really then be experts in futurology? Can we find the one right answer, the optimum solution, or do we need to stay beginners in order to encompass the full scope of futures,  and envision the myriad of possibilities? If our job is not simply to plan the route ahead, but to chart new territories and pave the road, then we cannot rely on heuristics and tested approaches. We have to let go, if not of our hard earned and learned knowledge, then at least let go of our roles as experts; allow us the beginners outlook and see the world as fresh each moment in order to gain new and unpredictable insights.

Having recently started as an intern at the House Of Futures, I don’t know the first thing about futurology or what will be in store for me. These pages, the Firsttimers Forray into the Future,  will journal what I learn, who I meet and my musings along the way. It is my hope that my lack of foreknowledge will produce  novel insights for your inspiration and amusement.

My name is Tao Thomsen, and like Suzuki I am proud to call myself a beginner.