About the Empty Cup
Nan-in, a Japanese master, 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 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?”
–Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
In order to be a student, one should have an “empty cup” – that is, always be ready to learn and consider things in new ways. There is always something new to see or a new perspective to be had on things already known. At our dojo, everyone trains with an open mind – even the instructor.
The empty cup also echoes the enso (above), a common symbol in Zen Buddhism.