Beginner's Mind (Spiritual Concept Applied to Pickup)

The beginner’s mind is a concept that comes from, (or at least this is where I first heard about it), from Zen / Buddhism. The classic idea is to let go of your preconceived notions and expectations. In life (and pickup) this is a super powerful concept that can help you grow very quickly in leaps and bounds. First let’s talk about what it means in Zen / Buddhism and then let’s talk about how we can apply this concept to pickup.

Before we get started I want to talk about the difference between and encountering and experiencing. These are different ideas. To experience we must have already encountered, encountering comes before experience. What do I mean by encountering? Normally I would get definitions for us but in this case I think I can get my point across with a simple analogy. Ever walk down the street with an infant? It takes forever for the child to walk down the block because it is encountering everything. It doesn’t know that that is a broken bottle, a homeless person, a crack vile, etc (can you tell I live in nyc??) It is encountering these for the first time. It is almost like the child is a blank slate. Now when I walk down the street I look at it like this, homeless guy probably smoked the crack, couldn’t sleep bought the beer, started fiending for crack and broke the bottle to try to rob someone (not jaded in the least SWEAR). All jokes aside, for me I have already encountered so thus I now experience. I walk down the block in a flash while the infant would take way longer. Encountering is very similar to what is Beginner’s Mind.

As we go through life we have many experiences. This leads us to creating beliefs. From these beliefs spring our perceptual filters. What’s interesting is that our beliefs / perceptual filters can create what is known as “Blind Spots” (not sure if this is an NLP term or not). What’s also very interesting (this was pointed out to me by Sinn) was that even beliefs that are clearly wrong can actually help us. He always would reference how Mystery thought he could get any girl. This actually created somewhat of a blind spot for Mystery in the sense that Mystery wasn’t getting feedback from the field when the pickup was going wrong. Some beliefs like women want sex as much or as more as men and that people are generally friendly are super positive beliefs even if they are not true. (I actually believe they are but I guess that is what is weird about a belief, we actually believe them).

When we practice Beginner’s mind we are looking at things as they are minus our beliefs, expectations, and whatever judgments / prejudices we have about them. It is almost like we are encountering things for the first time all over again. One time I was actually considering studying martial arts (this is something I actually suggest everyone do) and when I went to the school they had asked me if I ever studied before. I said no and they said good. This surprised me. I figured they would want people who had already studied or at least knew the fundamentals. I asked them about this and they explained to me that they would rather have blank slates because those with experience tend to have pre-conceived concepts about fighting and have bad habits. It seemed weird to me at that moment but now it is very clear to me. It is the same reason why some law firms would rather get the person out of college and train them (mold them how they want) as opposed to hire the person with more experience who already has been molded.

What’s interesting is there has always been this running track in my mind of what is better; ignorance or knowledge. I am sure most people will say knowledge. If knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss we could easily say what is better power or bliss. Think about the times you have found out information you wish you hadn’t and then re-evaluate the question. The reason I bring this up is as we encounter we lose our innocence. By gaining knowledge through experience we begin to develop beliefs and this in turn begins to mold us and all of a sudden we are less of a blank slate. We begin to develop blind spots. Everyone has blind spots.

You might be asking well that’s all lovely but how does this apply to pickup or learning new skills. To me they are one in the same. Pickup is a skill so anything that I write about learning pickup that is not specific to the skill of pickup (tactics, strategies, etc) can be used to learn any other skill (that seems really wordy).

Pickup and martial arts are very good skills to compare and contrast because they run parallel. In martial arts you have all these different schools (kung fu, karate, jujitsu, etc). In pickup you have different schools also (indirect, natural, blah blah blah). You also have many teachers of both. Personally, how I got good at pickup, was by studying from anyone who seemed credible, taking notes, being willing to try things that didn’t make sense to me, and most importantly taking what worked for me and disregarding the rest.

Taking what works for you and disregarding the rest is a very powerful concept (and something I talk about in my programs). This is how Bruce Lee created his style of kung fu Jeet Kune Do. What’s interesting is that I feel the style that I use is superior to a lot of others because I am not good looking (I get cute sometimes, SOMETIMES, never hot), I speak too quickly, and I don’t peacock.

When I was studying, I felt, as maybe some of you newbies feel, that a lot of the ideas, tactics, and strategies couldn’t work. I was like there is no way telling a girl within 5 minutes of meeting her I am not going to get along with her could possibly work. How could I approach a group of strangers and within 5 minutes tell the most attractive girl in the group that her and I were not going to get along. This was MIND-BOGGLING for me. I had all these preconceptions based on my past history with girls and trying to pick them up. You can’t undo 30 years of bad social programming overnight. What you CAN DO, HOWEVER, is practice Beginner’s mind and take the theory you are studying and put it into use without any of your preconceived notions, expectations, judgments and / or prejudices.

Believe me this is easier to write then it is to practice. Much like the victim mentality article I believe there is a huge difference between knowing the path and walking the path. I still struggle with this man. When I was studying Zen one of the first books I found (and I suggest people read) was Zen Mind, Beginners' Mind by Suzuki Roshi. It has been a LONG TIME since I read that book but one thing I will never forget was he said the essence of Zen (and thus Beginner’s mind) is the phrase “Not always so”. These three words are super powerful. It is like on bootcamp when I meet students that have these preconceived notions about how a girl will act based on her looks or fashion or whatever arbitrary characteristic they choose. In NLP I believe this is called “Mind reading” and it is something they teach you NOT TO DO. I always try to tell them what you think know is not always what reality is. That is your subjective interpretation of it (the map is not the territory). Not always so is a great concise way of saying this.

How do you know if you are practicing Beginner’s mind? You will know this when you are curious and examining information based on what it is, not based on previous preconceived notions. You will leave all you know behind and become a blank slate. You will almost regressive to a childlike state in the fact that you won’t be experiencing, you will be once again encountering.

What I am going to say now might possibly sound crazy but try it for one night and see if it helps. Try going through a night forgetting everything you thought you knew about women, forget about all your previous experiences. Let your next set be your first set ever. Instead of bringing in all your previous beliefs, stories, experiences, encounter the set the way a child would encounter a blade of grass the first time it sees it. What’s really funny is yesterday a co-worker was showing me videos of his nephew and his nephew who is less then a year old and was playing with this car you push. He was pushing the car and the car runs into the wall. He has no concept of what a wall is so it was kind of adorable see him learn on the fly. First he pushes the car into the wall, no go. Then he pushes the wall, no go. Then he falls down and starts laughing, gets up and drives the car around the wall. Let your next set be like that man. Encounter the set don’t experience it.