Age and Expectation

The Zen Buddhists have a concept they refer to as “beginners mind” which means having and maintaining a spirit of openness and eagerness towards the study and practice of a subject, even if one is very experienced. As one teacher puts it, “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Youth is often praised because it is said they are “open to new ideas.”

But praise of the beginners mind comes into conflict with the praise of the elderly which are the guardians of the old knowledge. They are the expert mind developed over the decades. Experience is supposed to allow the person to weed out the bad ideas over time, and keep only the things that are true and good. The elderly are said to be peaceful because they just know and so aren’t troubled with all the meaningless things and thinking…

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