There’s this famous Zen story where a Buddhist scholar is visiting a Zen master with the intention to study under the master. On arrival, the visiting scholar starts talking about all his knowledge and insights, and he goes on and on. The master listens patiently and then starts to prepare tea. When it is ready he pours tea into the visitor’s cup and continues pouring even when the cup is full and overflowing. The man shouts “Stop, stop, the cup is full, it’s overflowing”. The Zen master calmly replies: “Your mind is like this cup. It is overflowing with ideas and opinions. If you truly want to learn something, you need to empty your cup first.”
My mind definitely feels like it’s overflowing. And in my eagerness to grow as a person and to handle life more elegantly, I keep on pouring stuff in. Believing, that if I read yet another book on this topic or that, or attend another on-line program, if I listen to another TED-talk, and if I keep up with reading all the great articles people share on facebook, etc. THAT will make it happen. Make what happen?
Give me a greater sense of control? Make me feel more knowledgeable? Make me more confident? Give me a sense of security? Help me get on top of things?
That’s nonsense and I know it. And it would be a never-ending quest, since there are always more things to learn. While I am a great believer in knowledge, education, and science, and those things making human life better and easier on so many levels, I also know that the sense of security, confidence, and accomplishment I seek in order to live a thriving, compassionate life, can only be found when I am connected to MYSELF and my INNER guidance. Which requires emptying my teacup.
Don’t get me wrong. I love reading. I’m curious and want to learn. I want to play detective and connect dots. And sometimes it just feels like there’s too much noise for me to recognize which of all the dots are mine to connect.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that ALL information is relevant to me and ALL the dots are mine to connect, and ALL the world is mine to save.
It sounds funny, because everyone (yes, even I!) knows that that’s impossible. But maybe there’s someone who can relate?
Deep breath. It’s time to empty that cup at least a little bit. It’s time to reconnect with myself, so that I can be MINDFUL about what’s going on out there – finding MY dots to focus on.