A Cup of Tea

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “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 cup?” – Zen parable.

We begin our lives as blank slates, relying on our parents and school teachers to teach us what we need to know about ourselves and the world around us. Most of us become adults, never having questioned what we have come to accept as “the truth”. But what if those beliefs are wrong? What if the lessons we were taught as children are actually blocking us from finding happiness?

Do we believe that life is supposed to be hard and filled with problems? That happiness is only for a lucky few? That our jobs are meant to be boring and unfulfilling? That we will never have a lot of money? That money is somehow bad? That we are supposed to put up with people who try to tear us down? That only children can have dreams? That love doesn’t last? That our opinions are not important? That creating art is a waste of time? That aging is a tragedy? That sitting down and reading a book is a squandering of our time? That the world is a scary place?

As long as our cups are filled with negativity, there will be no room for the beauty and wonder and exciting possibilities that the world has to offer.

Let’s get rid of those beliefs that hold us back!


6 Comments on “A Cup of Tea

    • Just be sure the cup is empty when you begin pouring! Thanks for your comment, Maxine…

  1. What did the zen master say to the NYC hot dog vendor?

    Sent from Samsung tablet

  2. There is no question in my mind that my life is a work in progress. That work consists of emptying my cup. So far I think I may be one third down. One of my favourite sayings recently is “progress has been made”.

    • Maybe the work never gets finished, Phyllis, but making progress is a great thing. Good luck with your emptying!!

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