In a quest to learn more about Zen, a respected scholar sought the wisdom of a Zen master. Eager to impress, the scholar engaged in a relentless discourse about Zen, his knowledge, and personal philosophies. He talked and talked while the Zen master listened attentively.
As the conversation flowed, the Zen master began pouring tea into the scholar’s cup. Remarkably, the pouring didn’t cease when the cup reached its limit; it continued until tea overflowed onto the table.
Startled by this act, the scholar exclaimed, “Stop! The cup is full! It can’t hold anymore!”
With a gentle smile, the Zen master responded, “You are like this cup, brimming with your own opinions and speculations. How can you learn about Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
I often begin my sessions with this timeless story. For many, it’s a fresh narrative that piques their curiosity. Even for those familiar with the story, the insights gained with each retelling remain astonishing.
What makes this tale particularly intriguing is its applicability to our lives. Participants readily recognize the need to embrace open-mindedness and receptivity, not only in the session but also in their personal journeys.
This story lays a solid foundation for sessions where one has to introduce a new concept , encourage change, emphasize a mindset of humility, curiosity, and a willingness to shed old beliefs—qualities essential for effective learning and growth.
In essence, this story reminds us that true learning occurs when we empty our metaphorical “cups” of preconceptions, making room for new insights and perspectives. It underscores the value of deep listening—a skill that can transform our personal and professional lives.
So, I leave you with this question: What will you choose to empty from your mind today?
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