A well known professor
went to visit a Zen master. As the master gracefully served tea, the professor
described his ideas of Zen. The master remained quiet as the professor spoke,
continuing to pour.
When the tea reached the brim of the cup, the Zen master kept pouring. The tea overflowed, spilling onto the tray, the table, and the carpet, until the professor could no longer stand it.
“Stop!” he said. “Can’t you see the cup is full?”
“This is you,” said the master, positing to the cup. “How can I show you Zen, until you first empty your cup?”
Food for thought: This Zen parable shows how much ego plays a role in our social interactions. Even when we go to someone for advice, our self perceptions and desires cannot help but show themselves. How often do we tune out others’ words, thinking instead about what we are going to say next?
The first step towards listening is being silent ourselves, and realizing that when our heads are full of perceptions, it is hard to take in anything new.