empty your cup

As the popular story goes, a man once went to a wise Zen Master to seek wisdom and learn about attaining enlightenment. The Master welcomed him and offered to discuss about this over tea.  As the tea was served, the Zen Master kept pouring tea even after the cup was filled. As the tea kept overflowing, the visitor could not restrain himself any longer and asked him to stop pouring as there was no room for more tea. The Master smiled and offered his gem of wisdom: “Like this cup of tea, you are full of your own opinions and speculations as well. How can I teach you unless you empty your cup?”

This story is a great reminder for us that in order to learn something new, we need to unlearn all the previous knowledge with regard to that subject first. We need to start with a fresh pair of eyes and a beginner’s mind.

As Shunryu Suzuki-roshi points out, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.”