This is a story told in martial arts circles. When I first heard it I felt like this student!

When we believe we already know a lot, are we truly open to learn new things or see things from a different perspective?

zen cup of tea

“A master was trying to explain something to a senior student, who had already learned much in life.  However, each time the master tried to explain something new to the student, the student held the information up against what he already knew. He was therefore unable to see the lessons in what the master was trying to teach him.
Finally, the master poured a full serving of tea into his own cup, and into the cup of the student. Then he began pouring tea from his cup into the student’s cup, but of course, all the tea from the master’s cup spilled out over the cup onto the surface below.
The student said, “Master, you can’t pour anything into my cup until I empty it to make room for what you are trying to give me.”

The master replied “Yes I know, and I can’t give you any new thoughts or ideas, until you clear out your mind to make room for what I have to teach you…. If you truly seek understanding, then first, empty your cup!”
The student was confused at first and then it dawned on him. He smiled and was ready to receive the lesson.”

This is a lesson in humility for us all 🙏

About Val Boyko

Val Boyko is originally from Scotland and came to the United States over 25 years ago. At "Find Your Middle Ground" Val brings together her experience as a life coach, yoga teacher and mentor, to inspire awakening to the light and inspiration within us all. This blog is a place of exploration and discovery as we all explore finding harmony and peace, in the highs and lows of life 💛

41 comments on “* Empty Your Cup

  1. Definitely a great lesson…thanks, Val!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Such a true lesson! I find myself stopping and taking a breath sometimes so that I can let go of previous knowledge (even in the form of “we’ve always done it this way”) and see what is being presented. It’s not always easy! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I remember this tale.. Loved how you told it here Val.. and this is so true of the world right now.. As we hang onto what we have always known, not letting go of the old.. to make way for the new.. And so we are fearful of change..

    🙂 Love and Blessings.. Have a lovely weekend Val.. Hugs Sue xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The word “humility” seems to be popping up a lot for me these days…I like to think of myself as a flexible and open-minded person, but the truth may be I need to open even more. I mean, do we ever actually “get there”? 🙂 Practice, practice! Thanks for this great reminder!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Not heard this one before. Very obvious yet very profound!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Reminding the mind to be mindful of THIS moment = the Heart of Zen. Keep pouring out the past to make room for the NOW!

    good share, val.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Definitely a big lesson in life…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Carol Ferenc

    That’s a very wise master!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Knowledge stacking does not necessarily yield wisdom. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This reminded me of an old Buddhist tale, Val. With your permission:

    The Zen master and his disciple made their way across the sand to the shore. The disciple was carrying a cup and a sieve. At the water’s edge they stood on a rock, the sea breaking around them in great, frothy swirls. ‘Show me how you would fill the sieve with water,’ the master said. The disciple stooped and filled the cup with water. He poured it into the sieve. Cup after cup he poured into the heart of the sieve but no matter how quickly he poured, only the slightest moisture was left in the bottom. Even that soon formed a drop that was then swallowed in the vastness of the ocean. All the time the master watched, saying nothing.

    In the end, the disciple faced the master and shrugged. The task was hopeless. Now, the master spoke: ‘It is like this with the life of the human spirit too,’ he said. ‘So long as we stand on the rock of I, of myself-ness, of selfishness, and try to pour the divine life into that shell, so certainly that life will escape us. This is not the way to fill a sieve with water, nor the human spirit with the life of the divine.’

    Then the master reached out his hand and took the sieve from the disciple. He thrust his arm far behind him then launched the sieve as far as he could, out onto the face of the deep. For a moment, it lay glinting in the morning sunlight on the face of the water. Then it slipped far below. ‘Now, it is full of water,’ the master said. ‘And it will always be so. That is how you fill a sieve with water and the spirit with divine life. You throw the myself, the I, far out and away to sink into the deep sea of the divine life.’

    H _/\_

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I love this Val, what a great lesson, and so true…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a great lesson Val! Letting go of the old in order to let in the new is a must but we don’t always realise it. I guess that’s something we all need to work on if we want to progress,

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    Great post. Beginner’s mind. So hard to remember sometimes, seeing through our filters.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I shall empty my cup.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Wonderful reminder Val! As
    Mary says, we need the beginners mind each day to see, hear and feel this moment!! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  16. this reminds me that
    i should get tired
    of that hot tea spilling
    on my lap 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. a great lesson Val!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. A very good reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Wonderful reminder thanks Val.

    Liked by 1 person

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