"But first, you must empty your cup..."

In the Zen tradition, Tea Ceremony is the most sacred of ceremonies. The teacher serving tea to the student ultimately signifies that the teacher is being of service to the student. The following story is a teaching passed to me from this oral-tradition, retold, based on my memory and story-telling style.

Many years ago, a Zen teacher was conducting a tea ceremony for his student. The student was very proud of his spiritual accomplishments. When the teacher began pouring tea, the student told the teacher of all of the spiritual truths that he had learned. The teacher quietly listened and poured tea. As the cup became full, the teacher continued to slowly pour tea as it overflowed out of the cup onto the saucer. As the student talked and talked, the saucer slowly became full and the tea began to flow onto the table. About the time that the tea started to spill onto the floor, the student thinking the master a fool said, "Master, can't you see that you are spilling tea all over the floor!" The teacher said, "Yes, but first you must empty your cup- so there is room for something new."

My teacher used to tell this story to me when I was not "teachable." Or he'd just say, "Empty your cup, Mike." I heard it more than once. I still use it to remind myself to let go of my preconceptions and the things that I "think I know"- so I can learn from a new experience. May it serve you too.

11 comments (Add your own)

1. The inquisitive mind wants to know | Michael Hoffman - Transformational Speaker wrote:
[...] experience that we have. It is the spirit of exploration. It helps “empty our cup” (see previous blog)- so we can experience what is there. It is non-attachment of Buddhism. It is the mother of [...]

Tue, July 13, 2010 @ 7:55 AM

2. metablog wrote:
Thank you for sharing your comment, Pam.

Tue, November 10, 2009 @ 11:32 AM

3. PamelaM wrote:
Mike,
One of the joys and challenges of living consciously in this life... emptying your cup and leaving space for the teacher/lesson to appear.
Thanks for the reminder.
Pam

Mon, November 9, 2009 @ 10:37 AM

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7. Jeffrey wrote:
I personally use this with gaedrs 3 or 4 and up. When they can read well. High school students could certainly use it, too, especially as a good review of grammar, because it will start easier and get appropriately hard enough by the end of the year.As for the KJV, it will use a LOT of KJV, but because this covers a history of the English language, we wanted Bible verses that use more modern English as well. Also, at the beginning of the year, when not enough grammar is known, we use simpler versions, such as the NIrV. As the students learn more, more difficult versions can be used.By the way, I love using the KJV in pronoun study. Knowing what the thee's and thou's mean and knowing their case helps SO much in understanding both the Bible and the way we use English today. The KJV's use of these so-called ancient words makes it much more specific and understandable.I hope this helps!Hugs,~Anne

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