There’s an old story about a Zen master talking to one of his students. After offering the student a cup of tea, he starts to pour …but when he reaches the brim of the cup, he continues to fill the cup. “Stop, master…the cup is full!” the student declares, tea running onto the table and down his leg.
At this point, the teacher tells the student, ” You are like this cup…full of your own opinions and conclusions. How can you learn until you first empty the cup?”
I am afraid that I might have a second cup handy to handle the overflow.
It is easier to build a new container for the extra than it is to get rid of it. I’m not sure why it is so hard for me to “empty the cup”…by choice, I seem to want to hold on to a lot of things that get in my way. I curse the wastebasket I left in the middle of the room…finally moving it and realizing that I didn’t have to trip over it in the dark…realizing how easy it all was when I finally took some action to fix the problem. Until something changes, it’s “the way we’ve always done it”…and I continue to work around an issue that’s “fixable” until I decide or someone else decides to fix it.
There is a story about a holiday ham. The man in the story loved his hams…prepared the same way every time. Each time the ham was being prepared, his wife would cut the end off the ham before she put it into the oven. Finally, one day he said, “Why do you cut the end off the ham? Seems kind of wasteful…” His wife replied, “Well…that’s the way my mother always did it…you like my mother’s hams don’t you?”
The man replied, “Well…sure I do..they’re delicious…but that still doesn’t answer the question.”
His wife said, “well…why don’t you call Mom. Maybe she can give you an answer to your question”.
So he called his mother in law. When she picked up the phone, he asked her the question about the ham. She told him that “she didn’t really know…it was just the way it had always been done in her family. Why didn’t he call her mother and ask her why she cut the end off the ham?”.
So, sure he was getting closer to an answer, he called his wife’s grandma. “Hi”, he said, “I have a question for you. Every time we have a ham, my wife cuts off the end. Apparently, her mother did the same thing for years. They say that you taught them to do it. Why do you do that? What does it do for the ham?”
There was a pause on the other end of the line…and then Grandma said, “Well…my pan was too short. I had to cut the end off to make it fit.”
I know how to cook a ham….the same way I’ve always done it…and nobody’s going to tell me different.
My cup is full.