Filled or Empty?

June 2020 edition

Filled or Empty?

Article summary

You may have heard several quotes from Bruce Lee who is the founder of Jeet Kune Do and a martial artist and also known as a philosopher. He once quoted “The usefulness of a cup is its emptiness” and also quoted “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” How many times you have heard about these “Empty your cup” stories or quotes in your life? And what use of them if you are not applying them in to your life?

Now check this out… Even this topic you are listening / reading with your filled cup!  The thought of “Oh, I know this story… Oh the same topic or quote on empty your cup… come one right something new…”  filled with any of these thoughts right now?  

OK, here is the challenge, try to listen to this story with an empty cup…

One occasion there was a scholar came to visit a popular & wise Zen master for advice. “I have come to ask you to teach me about Zen,” the scholar said. Soon, it became obvious that the scholar was full of his own opinions and knowledge. He interrupted the master repeatedly with his own stories and failed to listen to what the master had to say. The master calmly suggested that they should have tea.
So, the master poured his guest a cup. The cup was filled, yet he kept pouring until the cup overflowed onto the table, onto the floor, and finally onto the scholar’s robes. The scholar cried “Stop! The cup is full already. Can’t you see?” “Exactly,” the Zen master replied with a smile. “You are like this cup — so full of ideas that nothing more will fit in. Come back to me with an empty cup.”

In Buddhism, there is this teaching says that “we must become a person with well heard of much learning” because the listening is actually the beginning of the path of eternal realization.   

But you cannot learn anything if you already feel that you know.  And when we listen to something, our preconceived ideas and prejudgments always prevent us from actual “listening” and seeing the truth.

So, it’s obvious that we have to unlearn before we can learn anything new.  But how?  Even though you may be full of knowledge, you should always be open to the fact that there is still more to learn. That’s how simple it is to empty your cup.  It’s totally your attitude.  Your attitude towards what you listen as well as what you have already heard & learned. 

If you listen and well learned with more & more knowledge & facts and you believed that you already know everything.  Then you are a useless cup.  Because, you are now kind of a cup filled with glue.  Can’t remove… can’t empty… just stick to the knowledge and analyses whatever newly heard with the knowledge you already have.  How can you learn anything new?  Even though you believe that you have learned something new, what actually happen is you get your own analysis only. 

So, just remember whenever you listen or go through anything even it is well known fact for you… remember that we have lot to know and we know nothing about anything.  Simply this attitude will empty the cup of yours and let you fill with the what you heard.  But this time it’s not just the facts & knowledge… in this way you will become a complete person… a content being with wisdom. 

Let’ yourself be that empty cup.  let yourself be useful to your own self my dear friends!  Have a blessed time my dearest empty cups! 

Rajitha Viduransi | Kelaniya, Sri Lanka