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The happy amateur counts. Life is for amateurs in that we all start out as such ones, unless we are fit for life all the way at once. As for the art of being an amateur - there's a knack to it. The Beginner's Mind to go for in Soto Zen (Suzuki 1999), for example, may be very close to the mind of the happy amateur, careful dabbler, or sovereign dilettante.

In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means "beginner's mind." The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind. . . . Keep your beginner's mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature . . . This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point. [Suzuki 1999:21]

Below are over 70 thoughts related to amateurs and other sorts of nonprofessionals. Those without author names at the back, are by me. - T. Kinnes


A bad thing about amateurishness is that one kind easily calls forth another and further.

A half-amateur near could be better than a whole one far away.

A professional loses the love of work, routine sets in, and that's the death of work and life. [Mod Ada Bethune]

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. [Richard Bach]

Amateur bedside manners are hardly are realm for much diagnosis work, not at first, at any raty.

Amateurishness: The art of making mistakes "with least harm to the patient."

Amateurism is hardly meat to live by.

Amateurism is not a case we are treating; it is one of the signs of a living creature.

Amateurism should never snatch away health, but, rather, reward it.

Amateurs and politicians tend to resemble one another.

Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

Amateurs must be very careful when they take the knife.

Amateurs think a lot, and often without anxiety.

An amateur is not angry at the wise man or all mankind, or look upon everybody only as sick and extravagant.

An amateur may not be an artist.

An amateur tends to view man in his world.

An amateur without knowledge of astrology has also a right to call himself an amateur.

An amateur's autonomy and what the amateur wants, demands respect.

An amateur's guess may be inexpensive.

An amateur's physiology has the power of influencing the conduct of those about him or her.

As an amateur, I understand how important it is to collect data on people so we can understand what's happening with them - that knowledge.

Being an advancing amateur can be lots of fun.

Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought,
Than pay a lousy amateur for a nauseous draught.

Being an amateur does not always mean being without skills.

Camera phones threaten to turn everyone into amateur paparazzi . . our personal space shrink because of the way technology is being used.

Drugs are not always merciless.

Each patient ought to feel somewhat the better after the amateur's kindly visit.

Many medicines are the outcomes of age-old amateurism.

Every disease is an amateur in its way.

Financial ruin solely from amateurish bills is no American disease.

Happy amateurs sometimes recover in spite of drugs.

"Happy to be am I," is no amateur take.

He could well be a fine amateur that knows the worthlessness of amateurishness.

He is the best amateur who is the most ingenious inspirer of confidence.

Here's good advice for amateur practice: Go into steady partnership with nature, for she asks none of the fee.

I could pose as an amateur amateur, I guess.

If an amateur has killed one or two he is not an all right, happy amateur.

If you decide to design your own language, there are thousands of sort of amateur language designer pitfalls. [Guido van Rossum]

I'll always be grateful to the public of intelligent amateurs. [Paul Cezanne]

I'm ashamed of what I think of amateurs in general. [Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966]

It can become as expensive to hire an amateur as a professional.

It matters to get paid for what you manages to do, even on an amateur level.

It's not always in an amateur's power to cure the sick. [With Ovid]

I've returned to being an amateur without any ties or strings attached, which gives me a freedom I never had before. [Cat Stevens]

Once the amateur's naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, much awkward and faulty may ensue.

One of the prime duties of the amateur is to educate the masses not to take harmful drugs and medicines.

Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur. [Alvin Toffler]

People may not pay the amateur for his trouble.

Papalism and amateurishness might be of the same substance.

Preventive medicine isn't yet part of the common amateur's everyday routine.

Say: "I might have made a tactical error in not going to a decent amateur for 20 years".

That which the amateur within you heals, if given gladdening opportunities, includes such as boredom.

The amateur can bury many mistakes, but hardly the willingness to have a good time that medicine cannot drive away completely.

The amateur loves things he does; the dilettante delights in them. This understanding is very close to the basic meanings of the two words. You are hardly a fool if you delight in what you are doing, provided it is good for you.

The Amateur Marriage grew out of the reflection that of all the opportunities to show differences in character, surely an unhappy marriage must be the richest. [Anne Tyler]

The amateur must give heed to peculiarities.

The amateur of the future will keep a sound interest in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.

The amateur status must be strictly maintained. [Robert Graves]

The amateur's high calling is to heal.

The art of healing comes from nature, not from the amateur. Therefore the good amateur might start from savoury nature, with an open mind.

The beginning amateur is perhaps unskilled about misfortunes.

The fact that the amateur's client gets well does not prove that his estimates have been correct.

The field of Western amateurism has become markedly replaced by machines, even in the realm of match-matching.

The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull toward the amateur ways.

The ideal amateur not only keeps his interests alive, but develops some of them, if not all of them.

The open-minded, single amateur may be far greater than any amateur clinic or amateur hospital, or at least be far less dangerous to visit.

The world's greatest thinkers have often been amateurs; for high thinking is the outcome of fine and independent living, and for that a professional chair offers no special opportunities. [Havelock Ellis, British psychologist and author (1859-1939)]

The young amateur starts up his preventive medicine against lots of diseases of grown-up people.

There are amateurs for the body and amateurs for the soul, although the two cannot be separated. [Cf. Plato]

Usually the amateur is defined as someone who cannot or will not achieve the mastery of a profession. But in the field of photographic practice, it is the amateur who stands closer to the noeme (essence) of Photography. [With Roland Barthes, "Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography"]

Was God an Amateur that many adore,
At least in danger, if not before?

When religion was strong and held amateurism views science was banned as magic. Now, when science is strong and amateurish religion weak, such religion is on the side of ritual and ceremonial magic.

When the mother-in-law arrives, the amateur may become a fool.


Amateurs quotations, quotes on amateurs, Literature  

Suzuki, Shunryu. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Rev. ed. New York: Weatherhill, 1999.

Harvesting the hay

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