In the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.
Being humble to me is the most important thing.And in being humble I mean being respectful of people and the environment around you , having the ability to admit that sometimes you don’t know and as Mr.S says above – maintaining a beginners mind , always.
A short story and an Ashtanga theory.
A friend of mine recently visited a Yoga studio in a town he was working in. It was a Mysore class ( the traditional self-practice method of Ashtanga Yoga- I’ll explain all of this another time). He was well into his practice when the teacher asked him to step out of the studio to ‘have a quick word’ Except it wasn’t actually a quick word but a chance for this teacher to give my friend the Ashtanga Yoga version of the ‘third degree’.
Who are you ? Did you book? Did you email? this teacher admonished my friend, who as you could imagine was somewhat taken aback by this teacher’s rather abrupt tone and manner. My friend is like a lot of folk (including myself) under the impression that Yoga is a practice to help create mind & body balance in mind (and speech). And right there and then he was witnessing from a very person who should be the personification of balance – a complete lack thereof! Fortunately my friend is made of a strong (Irish) spirit and challenged this teacher’s bullshit, to which they backed down and he got on with being in down dog.
There’s a rather amazing Ashtanga Yoga teacher called David Swenson – one of the good guys in Ashtanga- the most humble bloke in the Ashtanga world. He has this theory that Ashtanga Yoga is basically a fertilizer i.e. whatever you put into it , it will make that thing 10 times as strong – so if you are a good caring loving person then Ashtanga will turn up the gas on that for you and make you a really beautiful person to be around. However if you’re a mean nasty person then , well you can guess the rest here – you end up turning into the teacher mentioned above.
I guess it happens in all walks of life, you just don’t expect it to happen in your own backyard. People reaching a certain position of authority , becoming ‘an expert’ and then having very few possibilities left in their life including the ability of being humble.
I can put my hand on my heart and honestly say I don’t consider myself an expert in anything at all which as a Yoga teacher and practitioner of 20+ years might surprise some people – well not surprise people to an extent that they might think I am an expert but surprise them that I’d actually admit to not being. In fact I’m constantly astonished at my own ongoing stupidity , and it’s from that stupidity that I think I am able to stay humble. If you meet me sometime and I appear to talking crap then please do call me out on that – as we like to say in Manchester (Northern England , not On-Sea) ‘Wind yer neck in’ which is a colloquialism meaning stop talking shit my friend , pay attention and be humble.