The tale of mindfulness presented today has many proposed roots and variations however the essence always remains the same. Though it is a story that originates from Chan Buddhism (Zen Buddhism in Japan), the lessons can be applied to everyday life.
Our story begins with a dignitary or scholar paying a visit to a Chan master in a temple to discover in-depth information about the art of Chan Buddhism.
Knowing the intention of the visitor, the Master welcomes him as tradition dictates and pours him a cup of tea. However the master does not stop even after the cup is overflowing.
The dignitary cries out for him to stop as the cup is obviously full and can no longer accept any more tea.
Upon hearing his plea the Chan Master responds “Like this cup, you are full of opinions and speculations – how can I teach you before your cup is empty?”
This is a very popular story amongst martial artist as there are many misconceptions about the art form itself thanks to what students may observe in media much like how the scholar in the story came seeking information with prior notions. The moral of the story is applicable to every life situation and not just limited to learning.
I have listed it as a mindfulness story because life should be approached with an empty cup. All situations should be taken as they are without any pre-stress or anxiety about any hidden agendas. Remember if you enter a situation with preconceived notions, you may not receive the true value or experience that is on offer. This rings true when encountering different cultures or religions as everyone has something to bring to the table and no one bit of information is less important than another.
Approach life with an empty cup and you can grow exponentially and constantly. As nothing in life is permanent – there is always an opportunity to learn more and change poor habits we have if we so choose to.