A well known professorwent to visit a Zen master. As the master gracefully served tea, the professordescribed his ideas of Zen. The master remained quiet as the professor spoke,continuing to pour.

When the tea reachedthe brim of the cup, the Zen master kept pouring. The tea overflowed, spillingonto the tray, the table, and the carpet, until the professor could no longerstand it.

“Stop!” he said.“Can’t you see the cup is full?”

“This is you,” saidthe master, positing to the cup. “How can I show you Zen, until you first emptyyour cup?”

Food for thought: This Zen parable shows how much ego plays a role in oursocial interactions. Even when we go to someone for advice, our selfperceptions and desires cannot help but show themselves. How often do we tuneout 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 takein anything new.