A Bird on the Wing
Talks on Zen
A Bird on the Wing
Chapter title: Empty Your Cup
THE JAPANESE MASTER NAN-IN GAVE AUDIENCE
TO A PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY.
SERVING TEA, NAN-IN FILLED HIS VISITOR'S CUP,
AND KEPT POURING.
THE PROFESSOR WATCHED THE OVERFLOW
UNTIL HE COULD RESTRAIN HIMSELF NO LONGER:
THE CUP IS OVERFULL, NO MORE WILL GO IN.
LIKE THIS CUP,
YOU ARE FULL OF YOUR OWN OPINIONS AND SPECULATIONS.
HOW CAN I SHOW YOU ZEN
UNLESS YOU FIRST EMPTY YOUR CUP?
You have come to an even more dangerous person than Nan-in, because an empty cup won't do; the cup
has to be broken completely. Even empty, if you are there, then you are full. Even emptiness fills you. If
you feel that you are empty you are not empty at all, you are there. Only the name has changed: now you
call yourself emptiness. The cup won't do at all; it has to be broken completely. Only when you are not can
the tea be poured into you. Only when you are not is there no need really to pour the tea into you. When you
are not the whole existence begins pouring, the whole existence becomes a shower from every dimension,
from every direction. When you are not, the divine is.
The story is beautiful. It was bound to happen to a professor of philosophy. The story says a professor of
philosophy came to Nan-in. He must have come for the wrong reasons because a professor of philosophy, as
such, is always wrong. Philosophy means intellect, reasoning, thinking, argumentativeness. And this is the
way to be wrong, because you cannot be in love with existence if you are argumentative. Argument is the
barrier. If you argue, you are closed; the whole existence closes to you. Then you are not open and existence
is not open to you.
When you argue, you assert. Assertion is violence, aggression, and the truth cannot be known by an
aggressive mind, the truth cannot be discovered by violence. You can come to know the truth only when
you are in love. But love never argues. There is no argument in love, because there is no aggression. And