chapter  15
Expert Therapist—BeginningTherapist
Pages 6

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 expert’s skill is honed over a wide variety of situations. The decisive and quick narrowing of possibilities is the very sign of what is valuable about the expert’s contribution. So maybe Suzuki is right that in the expert’s mind there are few possibilities, but isn’t that a good thing about expertise?