Empty Your Cup!

February 25, 2012 by  


Photo supplied by Myson Sheppard

A professor at a nearby university went to visit a Zen master. The two men settled in the garden. The professor wanted to learn something about Zen but almost immediately he began talking about what he already knew. The Roshi listened for awhile then politely asked, "Would you like a cup of tea?" The professor agreed to join the master by receiving the exlixir so closely associated with Zen lore.

The master rose and returned with the steaming pot. He placed an empty cup in front of his guest. Calmly the master poured ... and poured. The steaming tea spilled from the cup and onto the table. "Master!" The professor cried out. "The cup is full."

The Roshi looked into the eyes of the professor, "Your mind is full. How can I offer you Zen, if your mind is already full?"

Today many people claim to be seekers of truth but whether they are or not depends on their definition or approach to this experience they call Truth. We live in a time we identify as the Information Age. The value of a person can often be measured in how fast they can gather data and facts. Are you a 3G or a 4G person? if your ability to download cannot be measured in gigabytes, your phone is not smart ... and just perhaps, you will be viewed in a similar fashion. You must KNOW. You must have information available at every moment of need. At least that is the story we are told.

Of course, it is good to have the data you need when you need it. It is handy to have facts at your fingertips. Your work is made easier and your curiosity can be satisfied in seconds. If truth means data and facts, your problem is easily solvable ... upgrade. Get yourself a new computer, I-Pad, Smartphone or enroll in a university. Stream facts and data into your brain on every subject you ever wanted to explore. If this is your truth seeking, wisdom, and nirvana may only be a few click away. However, if by truth you mean awakening to the fundamental nature of being and the Divine rhythm of life and the universe, itself, you are probing cyber-space with the wrong tool. A mind full of stuff can bring you more and more stuff but it can not bring you that most awesome of gifts, INNER-PEACE.

Inner-Peace is the center-point, the magnet for immeasurable Divine treasures you can utilize right here on earth. It is taught that "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you ..." How do you get there? Can you take a bus, dig through your skin?? Can you find the answer on your computer or ask the Artificial Intelligence, Siri, on your I-Phone? Herein lies the problem. Too often, seekers and human beings in general, leap on the mule but mistake the tail for the mane. This is a classic dilemma. It does not matter whether it is the man or the mule who is positioned wrong. Positioned in this way it is a clear case of man backwards ... ass backwards. The journey is in peril. The one who sees the trail does not know the destination. The one who knows the destination can not see the trail. How sad it is?

Guru or Roshi comes up to the man and says, "You are facing the wrong way, brother." The man looks at him and says. "I am facing the right direction. It is this dumb mule who is pointed wrong."

No one can help you if you will not see. No one can help you, if you stubbornly sit on your ass, the mule, and will not change your position. You may have a brain full of facts and data but when it comes to the real TRUTH, none of it will help you. There is a way, however. Don't emulate the professor. You can not believe for a single moment that you can approach the path of Self-Realization ... true awakening proudly overflowing with your own ideas. If you are not willing to empty your cup you are not a seeker of Truth, you are a discovery of delusions. You will definitely need more gigabytes to store them.

The Way is not your way. It is not my way. It belongs to no one. It is beholding to no one. It is beyond traditions even though traditions may embrace it. As Buddhist say, it is beyond beyond, altogether beyond ... So it is that when one comes to The Path of Truth in its highest sense, it defies what is known. It defies logic. Those who are emissaries of The Way are empowered by The Way to break through the mental walls which re-enforce our illusions and help free us of our delusions. When a student or disciple of The Way, herein referred to as Zen, in its universal all embracing expression, finds a master, the experience will be meaningless, ineffective, if all he or she does is take notes. It is the mission of the master to take everything from you, including your pre-existing idea of a self to be realized. If the seeker does not understand the purpose of the master, he or she will be deluded about the nature of the path.

When the Roshi offered the professor tea, he poured the brew made from boiling leaves into his cup. What a waste! I am happy to pour you a cup of tea also. Here is the difference... no cup, no teabag, no water and no pot. Now that is awesome tea.

Zen tea?

The world of particulars, that is the world of things is exciting. Sometimes, it is terrifying but mostly it is wonderful. Whatever it is it is but a flashing of light, darkness and colors before our eyes. What is before our eyes is ephemeral, we know that. Yet, we push off that thought until someone close to us dies. We remember then. We do not know how to feel but we find comfort in our stories of what lies beyond. There is so much speculation. People cling to thoughts but thoughts may not point to anything real. Imagination is just as powerful. Who knows what is real?

As long as reality remains in the realm of thought we are suffering from duality, what Christ calls a double-mind. We are observing something apart from ourselves but reality by its very nature must be inclusive. How can there be anyone to observe it unless they are functioning from a diminished consciousness. It is akin to a sleeper who dreams he or she is awake. If a person views the whole body in the midst of activity he is asleep or out of the body . A person who is awake uses the body from within, barring the use of a reflective device such as a mirror, he can not observe his whole form in action.

From an early age we are taught to live in a linear world and to embrace it and its properties as the foundation of what we call life. The norm is measurable by established laws and traditions which work to the socialization of beings. We are herded this direction and that for our own good, we are taught to believe. If we follow the leader we assume the destination is benevolent. Cattle quietly follow one another to slaughter. We may not face actual bloodshed by playing follow the leader but we deprive ourselves of the greatest of all experiences. It is something that can only happen to a a triune being, a being who is at the same time, physical, mental and spiritual. Only by the harmonious integration of this trinity can the person awaken. Christ said that Man could be "One with God." This is not something that can be done as a congregation or tribe. It is the result of an individual's personal quest. It is also important to note that despite the examples given, this is not simply definable as a religious path. The vast universe and a mustard seed are part of the same Truth. The word, Science and its discoveries are no less scriptures than the books of The Bible.

The Spiritual Teacher teaches by way of The Spirit. In other words, to qualify a master, The Spirit of The Universe guides and teaches through the vessel of the master. The master does not lose his viability as a genuine person through this "anointing" or "transmission." Those who recognize this phenomenon yield and receive the teachings. The master serves as the physical manifestation or embodiment of that which is beyond seeing. Air has no form. An empty balloon is lifeless. Filled with air it becomes vital while giving form to the air which inflates it. This is the role of a master, Here is a story that may help you sense that message:

A Zen master asked a monk, "How do you get a hold on empty air?" The monk grabbed at nothing. "What is that?" The master asked. "You have grabbed nothing at all." "What should I do?" The monk asked. The master suddenly grabbed him by the nose. The monk cried out in pain. "This is how you grab empty air," the master said.

We are the vapor  not the earthen pot.

How do you grab a hold of The Spirit? How do you sit at his feet? How do you share a cup of tea with him or split an ice cream sandwich with him? There are those who do this. You can do it also. What are you leading with? Is your brain (hardware) in charge? Is your intellect running everything? Are you fully dependent only on your five sense? You are filled to overflow. Empty your cup! When it is truly empty come closer.

End of Part I


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