Two Travelers on a Boat and the Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." — Shunryu Suzuki

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

A young girl and an old man are travelling in the same boat. They are slowly making their way to their faraway home. The old man speaks and the young girl listens. The old man tells stories of himself and impresses upon her his expertise. The young girl is aware of how little she knows and says to the old man, "Sir, I know what I know is not enough, but is it possible we are going the wrong way?"

"I am not a fool so there is no reason to doubt," says the old man. "We are close."

Days pass with no land in sight. The two travellers are worn and hungry.

When a big ship arrives, the old man madly attempts to get onto the vessel, nearly capsizing the boat. "Pull me aboard at once," the old man demands. "You need to take me to my homeland."

Amazed at the grace of the large vessel in the water, the young girl asks the captain, "Oh my captain, may I ask you, how too can I sail my little boat with such mastery as you do your much larger one?"

"It would take too long to tell you, it would be easier to bring you onto my ship so that I may tell you without haste," the captain responds.

The captain brings the girl onto his ship.

"I will tell you how we survived out in the ocean," says the old man. "My talent for overcoming obstacles."

The old man makes another attempt for the vessel but loses his grip and falls backward.

"You have to take me with you!" the old man declares.

The large ship bumps into the little boat as it sails away, capsizing it along with the old man.

"Where would you like to go?" the captain asks the young girl.

"Oh, my captain, I am sure wherever we go, there will be plenty to learn."

The humility of the learner attracts help. Expert arrogance and entitlement makes for quick enemies. The beginner's mind makes all the difference.

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