The Empty Cup

A learned man once went to a Zen master to inquire about Zen. As the Zen master talked, the learned man would frequently interrupt him with remarks like “Oh yes, we have that too”, and so forth. Finally the Zen master stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man; however he kept on pouring and the teacup overflowed. “Enough! No more can go into the cup!” the learned man interrupted. “Indeed, I see,” answered the Zen master. “If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?”  From Artist of Life by Bruce Lee


Often in life we fail to taste anothers tea because our cup is already full. Without our conscious thought we are impervious to the nourishment and wisdom offered us in life because our cup is already full. We are limited by our own vision, by our own knowledge and understanding.


I recently had this discussion with a woman who had a grandchild who was Autistic. The lady shared with me how she had struggled with feeling her grandchild was not normal like the rest of us and was robbed of experiencing the beauty of life. I felt compelled to share these thoughts with her…


What is normal? How do we know that your grandchild is not really the normal one and that we are not the flawed ones here. I mean who are we really to decide that a person is missing something in life and that in their “handicap” they are somehow limited and cheated in life… because the reality is… we don’t know anything about their world. In their world they could be experiencing something more beautiful than we can even conceive of. I believe we are each created in a likeness of God and therefore how do we not know that your grandchild is not the one who is normal… I mean after all he is not encumbered by preconceived notions and tainted thinking imposed on him by someone else’s innocent limitations. Your grandchild could wake up every day of his life and experience this world with the eyes of an angel and the spirit of a sage. He is like a child reborn anew every day. His thinking open… his cup empty and thirsty for whatever life offers that day. Can you imagine how beautiful his life might be? He may not be able to communicate with us how he experiences life, but maybe… just maybe… its beautiful beyond comprehension. Perhaps he is the sage… and we the student.


Her smile made my day… because I knew she had tasted a whole new flavor of tea… forever changing the way she viewed her grandchild.


Today… empty your cup and taste a new flavor of tea.




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