Beginner’s mind (quotes)

Preconceived notions and opinions are locks on the door to wisdom

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The illusion of knowledge is the greatest enemy of knowledge

  • The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. Stephen Hawking
  • It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. Mark Twain
  • IllusionKnowledge
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True learning is all about unlearning

  • Learning is about more than simply acquiring new knowledge and insights; it is also crucial to unlearn old knowledge that has outlived its relevance. Thus, forgetting is probably at least as important as learning. Gary Ryan Blair
  • Learning is always rebellion… Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before. Margaret Lee Runbeck
  • It’s not always what we don’t know that gets in our way; sometimes it’s what we think we know that keeps us from learning. Steve Maraboli
  • The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what it untrue. Antisthenes
  • Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. Mark Twain
  • It’s what we think we know that keeps us from learning. Claude Bernard
  • As you can see, there are quite a number of things taught in school that one has to unlearn or at least correct. Ambeth R. Ocampo
  • It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.  John Wooden
  • It is not hard to learn more. What is hard is to unlearn when you discover yourself wrong.  Martin H. Fischer
  • People learn something every day, and a lot of times it’s that what they learned the day before was wrong. Bill Vaughan
  • It is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he thinks he knows. Epictetus
  • You must unlearn what you have leaned. Yoda
  • Only an open mind still has room for new knowledge. What is outgrown and used up must be discarded to make room for what is yet to be learned. And much of the best thinking is done alone- – in deserts, on beaches, in bed, behind closed doors.  It is why we say we need to get away–to escape from clutter and busyness–to hear ourselves think.  Robert Fulghum
  • I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught. Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Learning
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To learn, we need to be an empty cup

  • A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”
  • We must be, as the eloquent Zen tradition tells us, ’empty cups,’ ready to be filled, without preconceived notions of what awaits us. M.A. Frank MacEowen
  • Heed the advice of the Zen master: Empty your cup. Empty your mind of all your thoughts so that you can fill it instead with those of the questioner. Concentrate. Jerry Weissman
  • Empty your teacup. You cannot fill a cup that is already full. Zen Proverb
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True actualisation and enlightenment is about dropping of knowledge

  • Self-actualization is the process of deprogramming, not the acquiring of new knowledge. Dick Sutphen
  • In the pursuit of knowledge: everyday something is added. In the pursuit of enlightenment: everyday something is dropped. Lao Tzu
  • Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand. Understanding means to throw away your knowledge. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Truth isn’t about knowing things; you already know too much. It’s about unknowing. Jed McKenna
  • If you want to know something, go elsewhere. If you want to unknow everything, then sit and listen. Adyashanti.
  • The silence inside of you is the sound of your knowledge collapsing. Remember, it is you who said, “I want to be free.  Adyashanti
  • If you fully awaken, you will not know yourself. Understand this, and you will understand all. Leonard Jacobson
  • It’s not about understanding, it’s about a falling. A falling into the awesome mystery that is life itself. A falling into not- knowing. And in that falling, the seeker is no more. Jeff Foster
  • Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it. Anthony de Mello
  • Learning isn’t acquiring knowledge so much as it is trimming information that has already been acquired. Criss Jami
  • Letting go
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Having new ideas requires dropping old ones

  • It’s not bringing in the new ideas that’s so hard; it’s getting rid of the old ones. John Maynard Keynes
  • It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date. Roger von Oech
  • We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side. If you can’t state arguments against what you believe better than your detractors, you don’t know enough. Charlie Munger
  • The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds. John Maynard Keynes
  • Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing. Thích Nhất Hạnh
  • We are prisoners of ideas. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Ideas
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Learn to adopt a beginner’s mind in all things

  • You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you. Barabra Sher
  • My advice to any young person at the beginning of their career is to try to look for the mere outlines of big things with their fresh, untrained, and unprejudiced mind. Hans Selye
  • Do it like it’s the first time. A beginner’s mind is open and an open mind innovates. Danielle LaPorte
  • Cultivate a beginner’s mind moment to moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. Shunryu Suzuki
  • The practice of Zen mind is beginner’s mind. The innocence of the first inquiry—what am I?—is needed throughout Zen practice. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything. Shunryu Suzuki
  • It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur. Wallace Stevens
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Look at things as if you’re seeing them for the first time…

  • Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time. Then your time on Earth will be filled with joy. Betty Smith
  • Do it like it’s the first time. A beginner’s mind is open and an open mind innovates. Danielle LaPorte
  • Cultivate a beginner’s mind moment to moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Thinking is learning all over again how to see, directing one’s consciousness, making of every image a privileged place. Albert Camus
  • Begin to see what is in front of you, rather than what you learned is there. Stephen C. Paul
  • Perception
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… as a child would, free of pre-conceived notions

  • How do you lift the veils of illusion? You start by asking your Higher Self to lift them and being willing to see what is revealed. Question things you have taken for granted. Explore new areas. Imagine you are a small child or that you have just arrived on the planet and are examining things for the first time. Orin
  • See the world as if for the first time; see it through the eyes of a child, and you will suddenly find that you are free. Deepak Chopra
  • Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see. Douglas Adams
  • Children are natural Zen masters; their world is brand new in each and every moment. John Bradshaw
  • Childhood
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Shed old ideas that no longer work

  • It’s not bringing in the new ideas that’s so hard; it’s getting rid of the old ones. John Maynard Keynes
  • It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date. Roger von Oech
  • The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.  John Maynard Keynes
  • We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side. If you can’t state arguments against what you believe better than your detractors, you don’t know enough. Charlie Munger
  • I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught. Georgia O’Keeffe
  • The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds. John Maynard Keynes
  • We are prisoners of ideas. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Many ideas are good for a limited time — not forever. Robert Townsend
  • Explore new ideas
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Belief stands in the way of truth

  • One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.”
    “Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”
  • TruthBelief
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Zen stories

  • Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
    Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
    The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
    “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
  • At the age of 30, an extremely successful Wall Street trader decided to go to Tibet, enter the monastery and unertake rigorous financial studies. On his first day, while his fellow trainees were hanging back, the ex trader marched right up to the Zen master an asked, “How long does it normally take to become enlightened?” “Seven years” the Zen master replied. “But I was top of my class at Harvard Business School, I made $10 million at Goldman Sachs, and in preparation for joining the monastery I’ve taken all the best time management courses. How long will it take if I study intensively and try extremely hard to cut the time?” The Zen master smiled and said, “Fourteen years.”
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