Saturday Apr 12, 2008

A Cup Runneth Over

Here’s another favorite Zen tale that you will find in my book, An Artist Empowered.

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

To welcome his guest and set the stage, Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could 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?”

From this teaching of Zen, we can appreciate that unique art is the product of an empty cup or mind. If we extend this metaphor further, we also come to understand that a smart and organic solution to a problem flows from a mind uncluttered by preconceived notions; insight means that no preceding thought led up to the realization at hand.

Grasp this perception now, break free from linear thinking, and the cornucopia of art will reveal itself.

I have met the likes of this professor.

Now, I would like to meet the likes of Nan-in.

And, in a sense, I feel that I have—which is why I visit this site often.

Posted by poetdiva13 on 04/15 at 03:44 PM.

Yes. It’s good to recognize the professor in others; it’s best to recognize the professor in ourselves—vigilance cannot be overstated.

Now, have your tea.

Posted by Eden on 04/15 at 05:18 PM.


I’ve submitted this to Isabelle Mori’s Buddhist Carnaval. I think you’d enjoy her blog.

Janet Riehl

Posted by Janet Riehl on 04/16 at 04:45 AM.

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