“The open-minded see the truth in different things: the narrow-minded see only the differences.” - Author Unknown

What is Open-mindedness?


    Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
    Receptive to arguments or ideas
    Not having preconceptions or prejudgments; receptive; tolerant; impartial
    Roget's II Thesaurus
    Ready acceptance of often new suggestions, ideas, influences, or opinions

Illustrative example from Zen Buddhism

The philosophy of Zen has a deep significance when applied to the martial arts. A beginner or novice enters the place of training with a head full of opinions and thoughts, but part of the discipline is to empty the mind so as to become a vehicle for new learning. In essence, it is to be truly open-minded.

There is a story about an old Japanese Zen master who was engaged in conversation with a prospective student. The student chatted on and on, full of his own opinions and ideas. He described to the master everything he knew about Zen, trying to impress the old man with his great knowledge. The master sat and listened patiently for a while, then suggested that they take some tea. The student held out his cup dutifully and the master began to pour. The tea came to the top of the cup, but still the master kept on pouring. The tea overflowed but still the master kept pouring. The student, unable to contain himself, pointed out that no more tea would go in the cup. The master looked up and said, "Like this cup you are full of your own desires and ambitions. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?" Within us should always be that Peace which is forever listening and open-minded.

Quotes on Open-mindedness:

    "We avoid the things that we're afraid of because we think there will be dire consequences if we confront them. But the truly dire consequences in our lives come from avoiding things that need to learn about or discover." ~Shakti Gawain (The Path of Transformation)
    "Man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." ~Author Unknown
    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." ~Walt Disney

Reflective Questions about Open-mindedness:

  • Do I listen with an open mind?