Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Empty Cup

"Open to the Possible"
-dawning of a new desert day-

Yesterday I wrote a post about practicing a "discipline of emptiness" - freeing my mind of my own ideas, answers and predispositions so as to allow myself to be filled up by greater power beyond my "self." 

After I posted my article yesterday, I almost immediately had an online response to what I had said,  and the dialogue that ensued demonstrated to me that I have much work to do on practicing a "discipline of emptiness." 

When I first read the response to my post yesterday, it appeared to me that the responder hadn't really read what I had to say (at least not carefully enough).  His comments made no sense to me and I told him so, to which he angrily shot back that he had read my thoughts very carefully, and it was me who wasn't understanding what it was that he was saying.

Anyhow, it went back and forth like this for about 20 minutes or so until I was suddenly struck by the reality that neither of us was paying all that much attention to what the other person was saying- we were both so filled up with our own ideas that we made little or no room for the ideas of someone else. 

It all concluded very amiably, both of us agreeing that we had something to learn from one another and both of us feeling somewhat amused and entertained that we could be so closed-minded with one another in a discussion about how to be emptied of "self" in order to be filled with "other." 

After my online conversation yesterday, I immediately looked up one of my favorite Zen stories, vowing to tell it once again in today's post as a reminder of the hard work necessary in being empty enough to be filled up.

A Zen Master lived on a high mountain in a little hut. One day a well-respected and highly educated professor made an arduous journey up the mountain in order to visit the master, hoping that the wise master might teach him something of the meaning of life.

Having arrived at his destination the professor called to the master who opened the doors to his hut and graciously welcomed him in. 

They sat together and the professor proclaimed, "I have made an arduous journey to get here and I am seeking your wisdom about the meaning of life." 

The old master then paused and said "Come let us have some tea together."

As the old man prepared the tea,  the accomplished professor bragged about all the books he had read, and all the lectures he had given about the meaning of life.  The professor went on to boast about his extensive education as he listed all the advanced degrees he had achieved.

As the professor rambled on, the wise old master simply placed a cup in the professor's hand and began to pour the tea,  but the professor was so busy talking about himself and expostulating about all he knew that he didn't even notice that, even after his cup had been filled with tea, the old man just kept pouring until the tea ran over the side of the cup and onto the floor.

"What are you doing?" cried the professor as the tea burned his hands, "Can't you see that the cup is full?" 

"Just so" said the wise old master. "You have come from a long distance seeking something from me, but there is nothing I can give you because your cup is already full. Go and empty your cup, then come back to me and we shall talk."

I needed to tell myself this story once again as I begin this new day filled with endless possibilities.  I will never be able to be filled up with those possibilities unless the cup of my life is empty.

1 comment:

  1. The greatest among us go unnoticed and are often despised and marginalized because the enormity of what they have to offer would unintentionally call attention to the fact that most of our tiny intellectual teacups are full of our own arrogance and regurgitated specious feces. I am glad I had some room in mine for this. Thanks for sharing.