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The Full Tea Cup

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A university professor went to see a Zen master to question the nature of Zen and its profound wisdom.  When the professor arrived, the Zen master asked him if he would like a cup of tea. 

As the Zen master began pouring tea, the professor started asking a number of questions about the value and meaning of Zen. The Zen master kept pouring the tea without answering the questions.

The professor impatiently restated his questions and asked for an answer. The Zen master kept pouring the tea without saying anything. The professor began to get annoyed and demanded that the Zen master answer his questions.

By now the hot tea was running over the cup and onto the professor’s hand. “What are you doing? You fool! How can you tell me about Zen philosophy when you can’t even pour tea!” exclaimed the professor.

That cup is just like your mind, Sir.  I cannot tell you about the nature of Zen when your mind, like that cup, is so full!” said the Zen master.

This story reminds us to be mindful of the judgements, ideas and opinions that we have in our mind when listening to another person. If we truly want to hear what is being said, we must first “empty our teacup” of such judgements, ideas and opinions – only then can we truly hear what is being said.

What is your mind full of?

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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