Have you ever heard of the term Shoshin (初心) from Zen Buddhism?
Shoshin means beginner’s mind, and it means being open-minded, eager and not having any preconceptions. Even when you are an expert in your field, having this attitude can be really helpful. Many of us have had an experience of introducing someone to a game we love, or we are stuck on something really hard, and the newbie gets it right away. Beginner’s luck, we say, almost derisively.
When you have been learning something for a long time, you start to notice patterns, and you learn what works best. This can cause you to become a bit closed-minded, unwilling to entertain anything outside of your expectations. James Clear explains this idea really well in this blog post.
So what the Fool reminds us to do, is pretend that we’re beginners again. Try anything. Surrender to the unknown, and see that there is potential for more than just the particular set of options that you have learned so far.
Let’s take a closer look at the RWS Fool. Mysteriously, he is the card numbered 0 in the deck. This means that The Fool doesn’t really have a particular spot in the Fool’s Journey. He can fit in between any of the other cards. The 0 also makes us think of infinity; he has infinite potential.
The first thing we notice when we look at the imagery is that The Fool looks like he is about to step off of a cliff. We don’t know how high the cliff is, and we don’t know if he can stop himself in time. The Fool asks us to take a leap into the unknown.
We notice that he is carrying a bindle and a white rose. The white rose symbolises innocence or freedom, and the bindle is probably carrying all the most important things that the Fool needs on his journey. So he’s not exactly unprepared, but he doesn’t know what lies ahead. There is a small dog following The Fool. This could symbolise faith and trust.
Out of all of the decks I photographed above, I least prefer the Star Spinner version. I feel that the Fool looks too contemplative in this version. An important thing to remember is that everyone sees the cards differently, and the Star Spinner Fool certainly shows a fair amount of innocence and kindness.
The Sasuraibito Fool portrays perfectly another aspect of the Fool that I admire. He really does not care what anyone else thinks. He doesn’t have to follow anyone else’s rules, and even if he is mocked or derided by others, he is self-confident and liberated. He’s answering the call and taking a chance.
When we first see The Fool, we might be the ones who make fun of him and think he is stupid, but that attitude is exactly what this card asks us to cast off. Be kind and open-minded, don’t worry about what other people think of you, and go for it.
Think about when you have had the Fool’s carefree attitude. Could it work for you now? Some people never want to behave like the Fool, but he does have a lot to teach us. What do you think?