The empty cup

There is a lovely story about a knowledgeable professor from the West who seeks out a Zen master.

The professor greets the master, saying: "Hello, I'm Doctor so-and-so. I am an accomplished professor with the following degrees (which he rattles off). I'd like to learn more about Zen Buddhism from you."

The master replies: "Would you like to sit down?"

After getting a reply in the affirmative, he asks: "Would you like some tea?"

"Yes," replies the professor again.

The master pours the tea, and continues pouring until the cup is full, and then past overflowing.

The professor shouts to grab the master's attention: "The cup is overflowing! The tea is spilling everywhere."

"Exactly," replied the Zen master. "You've come to me with a full cup. Your cup is already spilling over - so how can I teach you anything?"

"You're already overflowing with knowledge. Unless you come with an empty cup - with emptiness and openness - I can teach you nothing."

CiricleWe would do better to approach our training and our daily lives with a kind of ignorance and innocence - then we can truly learn, rather than observe things from our biased and often overflowing perspective. There's often the need to practise emptying our cups in order to allow us to learn the lessons that life presents us with.


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04 February 2013, 11:43
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