A Cup of Tea (Fullness and Emptiness/1)

by Mark Chmiel

Nan-in was a Japanese master during the Meiji era
One day he received a university professor
Who came to inquire about Zen

Nan-in served tea
He poured his visitor’s cup full
And then kept on pouring

The professor watched the overflow
Until he could no longer restrain himself
“It is overfull—No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said
“You are full of your own opinions and speculations.
How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

–adapted from Paul Reps, 101 Zen Stories

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