Tuesday, October 11, 2011


E. Ethelbert Miller asks: "Do you have a favorite Zen story or saying?"
One of my favorite sayings, which also is the title of a book by Zen master Wu Kwang, is "Open Mouth, Already A Mistake." I remind myself of this wisdom several times a day (and abuse that wisdom, no doubt, whenever I'm writing an E-Channel post.)

 As for Zen stories, there are scores of classic ones that I love. Here is a version of a very famous tale that has been one of my favorites since the 1960s:
Empty Your Cup
A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring.

The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself.

"It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted.

"You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

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