Thursday June 24, 2021
Re-Emptying Your CupI'm sure many of you have heard this famous story: A university
professor visited Zen Master Nan-in to inquire about Zen. Nan-in
served tea. He filled his visitor's cup and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain
himself no longer. "It is overfull. No more will go in." "Like
this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and
speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your
It is most interesting that many people "empty their cups"
of opinions and speculations when they realise the important
lesson in the story. And with their newly acquired "empty cup" of
open-mindedness, they might unmindfully start receiving and
collecting the opinions of others. In no time, their cups are
filled to the brim again. They then believe they have "found" the
truth or at least the way to it, and stick irrationally and
stubbornly to it despite reality being otherwise. This is the
failure of keeping the open mind open! Do we re-empty our cups
from time to time? For most of us, our minds open and close again
and again, believing and disbelieving, taking up speculations and
giving up speculations... It could due to this unnecessary and
mindless cycle we keep going through that hinders us from getting
closer to Enlightenment.
It might be helpful to note that it was
the Buddha's remarkable open-mindedness that encouraged Him, when
still a practising ascetic, to seek the right method that led to
Enlightenment from several teachers.