Filling a Cup that is Full – Zen Fable

Filling a Cup that is Full

There was once an American professor who had made a lifetime’s study of the Japanese tea ceremony. He was now known as the western expert on the tea ceremony. When he heard there was an old man living in Japan who was considered the ultimate master of the tea ceremony, he made a special trip to Japan to see him.

He found the master living in a small house on the outskirts of Tokyo and they sat down to have tea together. The moment he settled down, the professor started talking about the tea ceremony, his study, all he knew about it and how he was looking forward to learning from the old man. The old man listened sagely and started to pour tea into the professor’s cup. While the professor talked, the old man continued to pour the tea. The cup quickly filled and the old man kept pouring. The tea spilled down the sides of the cup in a stream onto the floor, yet the old man did not stop. “Stop!” said the professor. “You are crazy. You can’t fit any more tea in that cup. It’s full.”

Looking up, the old man replied, “I was just attempting to fill a mind that is already full.”

Source: Zen Fable



If our cup of the mind is already full, then it is hard for anything more to enter it. It is only when we learn to keep our minds open and ‘empty’ and put aside our ego that learning becomes possible.





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