Friday, August 12, 2011

The Empty Cup

I love the old Japanese story that illustrates what it means to be humble: Early one morning a wise old monk answered a persistent pounding at his door to find a young monk on his doorstep. Without any words of greeting the young monk began, “I have studied with the best and wisest masters. I know Zen philosophy well, but I have been told that you are the wisest of all the masters and so I have come to be sure there is nothing I am missing.”

The old monk bowed politely and said, “Certainly. But before we begin come have tea with me.”
The two seated themselves and the old monk began to pour tea into the young monk’s cup, but when the cup was full he didn’t stop. He continued to pour hot tea until it flowed over the side of the cup, onto the table, and into the young monks lap.

The young monk jumped and began to shout. “You fool! You are no wise man. You can’t even pour tea.”

The old monk bowed again and replied, “You are as full as this cup. You have no room for more thoughts. When you have an empty mind come back and then you can learn something.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am like this :). I start to think I know it all, because I can recite and feel a truth. Sometimes I am even dogmatic on one truth, that all other doors for learning are shut. Then when by chance I do learn something new, I am so humbled to think that I couldn't learn this principle earlier.
My example: I was having a difficult time feeling love for a young woman that I know who is a member of the church who started having sexual relations with another member of the church, out of wedlock, became pregnant (and then, I believe, had an abortion). I was so busy criticizing her decisions in my mind (and heart) and thinking that I knew best what her next step should be, that I forgot that Heavenly Father loved her and was in charge. When she shared her story with me about Heavenly Father's hand in her life, I knew that he loved her and that he was trying to get her back on the right path (but he wasn't going to remove her agency, he was doing it through love). I was humbled to discover that I had a false belief that Heavenly Father only helps and loves those who don't make mistakes or wrong choices. Of course, I had ignored the fact that he helps me and loves me even though I make mistakes (I forget about my own mistakes or at least minimize them in my mind).