Bruce Lee, the world-famous martial artist, told this story about his teacher as a lesson for Lee’s students. It is about the Japanese Zen master who received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
- It was obvious that the professor from the start was not so much interested in learning about Zen as he was in impressing the master with his opinions and knowledge. The master listened patiently and finally suggested they have tea. The master poured the visitor’s cup full and then kept pouring.
The professor watched the cup overflowing until he could no longer take it. “The cup is overfull, no more will go in.” “Like this cup,” the master said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Bruce studied the student’s face. “You understand the point?” “Yes,” said the student, “You want me to empty my mind of past knowledge and old habits so that I will be open to new learning.”
“Precisely,” said Bruce Lee. “And now we are ready for the first lesson.”
Excerpt from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams