Has our modern world become so serious that we have forgotten to allow the energy of the fool into our lives? Maybe some ancient wisdom can offer us a chance to address the challenges we face both in our personal lives and in the world?

Even though I am writing this on April Fool’s Day, I do want to be clear that I am not joking. I am asking that you take today to reflect on the true meaning of being a fool and see what it offers us for our positive change.

A Foolish Retreat

Most of us have an incorrect perception of the “fool” and what it means. This fact became clear for me around 10 years ago when I was leading a large men’s spiritual group. As we planned our annual retreat, I was intuitively drawn to the idea of a theme around the fool. We ended up getting around a hundred men to spend 3 days up in the Rocky Mountains on a “Journey of the Fool”.

Early on, we had to reorient the men towards what we meant in taking on this journey. The fool is not about being dumb. Embodying the fool meant “breaking down” our self-imposed barriers and limitations so as to move us in our consciousness towards higher possibilities.

In our time together, we had great fun –dancing, making masks, other playful stuff — but it was all intended to lead us to seeing our lives through “new eyes” and being open to new ways of showing up. The time was quite successful and I still have men who come up to me talking about the impact it had on their lives.

The Meaning of the Fool

So what does it really mean to be the fool? To begin, the fool is one of many human “archetypes”. An archetype is believed to be a type of unconscious pattern that provides a psychic blueprint for the emergence of some kind of standard human behavior. Consider it like a theme or pre-programmed sequence of thought and action which sits behind our conscious awareness and allows such programs to emerge at the right time and under the right circumstances.

Over the course of the last two thousand years or more, certain standard archetypes or patterns have been identified by many individuals. One of these patterns has been labeled the “fool” (or the “jester” in some descriptions). This human tendency consists of the following characteristics:

  • Calling us to seek new beginnings with an expanded horizon, setting out on a journey into the unknown.
  • Living in the moment with spontaneity, letting go of old expectations and inhibitions and moving towards a sense of freedom and feeling carefree.
  • Trusting that all is going to work out, staying open to new possibilities, and feeling protected and loved and living in complete joy.
  • Following your heart’s desire, taking what may appear to others the “foolish” route and pursuing your dreams.

Allowing the Fool into Your Life

Think about it — somewhere in our unconscious is potentially a pattern of thoughts and intentions calling us to these characteristics. Your rational mind may tell you that it is “foolish” to believe that, but what if it’s true?

Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, would acknowledge that we do feel something inside us that is pushing us towards such new journeys in our lives with eyes open towards fresh perspectives. The only thing that prevents us from listening to this calling is our old programming of beliefs that tell us such things as “you must be logical and rational”, “you have to do what everyone else does”, “this is what you have always believed, you can’t change that now”, and so on. Isn’t it time to let go of our old limits and expand our lives — and our world — into new possibilities?

Life on earth seems so daunting at times here in the 21st century. The list of things to “worry about” can seem overwhelming—war and violence, political divisiveness, income inequality, racial strife, global warming, overpopulation, water shortages….etc. Many of us look out at life with our current state of awareness and wonder how we can ever solve the issues we face. Certainly these are not the times for us to be “foolish”. Or maybe this is exactly the time to embrace the true meaning of the fool?

Our Foolish Evolution

One of the most fascinating aspects of evolution is the idea that under the right circumstances, something new and different “emerges” to meet the new conditions. The entire story of our universe from the “big bang” to today is filled with new and creative solutions “emerging” out of what appeared to be the previous limits.

Stars emerged about the soupy universe of early elements. Planets and solar systems emerged. Life emerged. Consciousness emerged. Technology emerged. And — continuously — new human ways of seeing and understanding life have emerged as we have grown and developed both individually and collectively.

Whenever the universe was faced with some apparent limitation, underlying “foolish patterns” led us towards new discoveries. It surprised us with the emergence of something totally unique and unexpected that opened us to greater possibilities. Perhaps we should take hope in the fact that life appears to have this hidden pattern that always expands us into something new and greater showing up on the stage of our universe’s story. Life has a way of working out.

Maybe we simply need to embrace the energy and archetype of the fool that lives within our collective subconscious and openly allow it to move us towards a new phase of “human beingness”. Perhaps we need to trust the process and be open to what can occur when we recapture our innocence.

Foolish Questions to Ponder

I am encouraging you to embrace the fool for your own life and for the planet’s. Here are some things to ask yourself as you consider becoming the “fool”:

Where in your life are you being called to set out to start something new even if it seems crazy?

How can you let go of old programming as to how you are “supposed to be” and open your life to newness, surprises and living in the moment?

Where in your life are you feeling worry or fear that be released such that you can have faith that things are going to work out, that you can trust the flow of life?

What dreams have been percolating within you that it may now be time to act upon?

What would you do if you trusted your heart’s desire?

Finally, how can we all let go of our collective differences of opinion caused by old expectations of what is “right” and open ourselves to embarking on a new crazy impulsive pipe dream of a human journey where we see our interconnectedness and support one another in living in joy and prosperity? How can we come together to take the path less traveled, to expand our human horizons towards the emergence of world that works for everyone?

Maybe it’s time for us all to be the fool.

Mark Gilbert


Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his very latest one Becoming a Spiritual Change Agent. Check it out!


Photo credit: n0cturbulous / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA