open-mindedness: listening to new ideas

word of month character

On the subject of open-mindedness we have raised the idea that listening to others is good for us as we hear new ideas and new ways of doing things.  If everyone was closed to new ideas think of the many inventions and other things that may have been delayed or never happened in our world.

Some are closed off though due to fear of change or they may just not want to be seen as having been wrong in the past.  Sometimes we just like to hear ourselves talk and we may even be trying to impress others with how much we know and so never get to hear the thoughts of others. 

There is a story in the martial arts world of a student who is visiting a master instructor who he really wants to impress with his own knowledge, thinking that this would bring special privileges as a student.  After listening for quite a long time the master instructor invited the student to have some tea.  He poured the tea continuously until the cup was overflowing.  He continued to pour until the student could no longer stand it and screamed for him to stop.  The teacher did stop and the student asked him why he poured to such an extent.  The masters answer is telling.  “Like this cup you’re full of your own ideas.  How can I teach you anything unless you are willing to first empty your cup?”  Is our cup empty or are we only filled with our own way of thinking?

Its not that all new ideas are good ideas.  Its not that all ideas are good for everyone.  It could be that some ideas may be good for some and not for others.  But unless we are willing to hear them out we will not be in a position to think about them and make a choice. 

The choice should be ours from a position of knowledge.  When we hear about something new or a way of thinking about something that is different than our present way of thinking we need to choose if this is a good or bad choice for us.  By the way just because an idea is new, bold, exciting, or innovative, does not mean that it may also be foolish.  Only by using our own mind and careful consideration can we come to a conclusion that would be good for us or our family.