Frodo, Gollum, and the Beginner's Mind
As I've been going deeper down the Headspace rabbit hole feeding my mindfulness practice, I've caught myself thinking about the concept of 'The Beginner's Mind' more. I pulled a simple definition from the Wikipedia page for easy reference: It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
Here's the inspiration I found to keep up my own beginner's mind.
While re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I found myself empathizing with the strange little creature more than expected. Midway through The Two Towers, we see Sméagol arguing with himself, yelling at the darker side of himself, Golem to "leave now and never come back". I've yelled at myself plenty before. I want to believe he's really capable of changing for the better. He returns to camp with two freshly killed rabbits, excited to share them with his master Frodo and it seems like he can turn over a new leaf. All the while, I felt a little annoyed by Sam's reluctance to see any good in him.
Gollum started out as a hobbit, just like Sam and Frodo. But he gave in to his inner darkness, which overtook him. Jealousy and greed drove him to murder his friend, leading to an agony filled life of exile. There's a very clearly delineated duality to him - an evil (Gollum) and a good (Sméagol) played out as a sort of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
The capacity to do bad things is inside everyone. It's part of our less evolved primal nature to be jealous, selfish and greedy. Sméagol gave into these dark urges. He never stopped that momentum and it continually fueled his inner Gollum. Just like Anakin falling victim to the dark side and becoming Vader. In the end, we learn that even the dark leader of the Galactic empire wasn't truly lost, but it was too little too late.
Even the good-hearted hobbit Pip gives in to the dark side when he snatched the black orb from Gandalf while he slept. Good people do bad things too, that doesn't make them all bad.
I took a liking to Frodo's open-mindedness throughout the journey. Frodo has a natural beginner's mind. He experiences things in the moment, with a beginner's mind. He doesn't hold on to resentment. There's no chip on his shoulder. Sam dislikes and distrusts Gollum from the moment he sees him, whereas Frodo recognizes that they can't reach Mordor without help. It's only really in a moment of weakness, towards the end of the journey when Frodo allows his mind to be influenced by Gollum where he slips up.
Again, it reminded me of Star Wars when Luke wouldn't kill Vader. Luke approached the moment with a beginner's mind - not holding onto wrong-doings of the past, which would have surely filled him with rage. As a result, he got to share an unexpectedly touching moment with his real father.
It's easy to look at someone or something and quickly assign a label or form a judgement. The mind excels at forming first impressions, but they're almost always inaccurate, if not flat out wrong.
I choose to be more like Frodo.