you may have heard about the Nyogen Senzaki, a Rinzai Zen monk (Zen Buddhism) in the 20th century. He once said
Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?Nyogen Senzaki
Also, he wrote many books that are not only eye-opening but have profound knowledge to shift your paradigm towards the world completely, but in this article, I am not going to discuss his books but his quote.
Funny thing is that I have heard this quote many times in my life (perhaps you may have heard it too somewhere in your life), but I never gave this quote a second thought that what does it mean really?
Does it say that first I have to become dumb to learn something new, or I have to forget all the knowledge that I have previously to get fresh wisdom? or Do I need to forget the logic theory?
Having all these questions in my mind, one the day miracle happened, and the actual meaning of this quote, came automatically in mind while I was about to sleep.
Let me break it down into points so you can understand the meaning effectively and completely.
Most of you must have got that here the cup is a metaphor that represents our mind. but I’ll say that the cup not only represents the human mind but also the human intellect. Don’t be confused, as here I am saying that the mind and intellect are different things because they are indeed different from each other. Mind here represents (मन, मनस – Our emotions, feelings) and Intellect represents (बुद्धि) – our capability to make a distinction between good and bad or right and wrong.
Why the cup is already filled?
The easiest way to become a monk – Get enrolled in the monastery as an infant. Why I am saying these? because as an infant our cup is filled already but not on that extent, so It can be easily emptied with just little efforts.
but When we grow up in the society surrounded by thousands of people in which each one has their own views and thoughts on everything, We start to fill our cup with their views and thoughts slowly and one day we become so rigid about our opinions and speculation that no one can easily empty our cup.
For everything that is happening right now, we have our opinion about it. Even sometimes we don’t know something, but still, we have a “not knowing” kind of opinion about that thing. So in simple words, in this whole universe, we have an opinion about everything, whether we know that thing or not.
Have you ever wondered, how that opinion and speculation came to your mind? Where did you get it from? If not, let me tell you that you got it from your surrounding. Here surrounding means everything that you get in touch with, for e.g. peoples, animals, even the things that don’t have any kind of consciousness.
Everything you get in touch with on a daily bases plays a major role in determining your behavior, attitude, and opinion about something.
Without having direct experience, we start to fill our cups unconsciously and one day it gets so filled that we can’t pour anything into the cup anymore. Once we are on this stage, there is no chance for us to get something new, because at this point whatever we try to feel into our cup, it’ll be overflowed naturally. There is no space in our cup to pour something in new. So, it’s time to empty our cup.
What does it mean to empty the cup?
It simply means that don’t have a rigid opinion and speculation about anything until and unless you know that thing very well enough.
For example, suppose that you about to learn something from an established teacher. The teacher is a legend in that subject and has enough experience that he can teach you that subject at such a level that no one in this world can teach you like him.
As a curious student, you might have something in your mind about that subject before you have gone to the teacher. At some point in your learning journey, you came to know that whatever you had known about that subject before you came to the teacher is now conflicting with the teacher’s concept. Your opinion about the subject is now not matching with the teacher’s opinion. Why did it happen? Is it because the teacher is wrong? Or is It because you are wrong?
It happened because you had your cup filled. So there is no space for the teacher’s teaching.
The above example was just to clarify that if you are about to learn or gain something new in your life, first of all, give up all the opinions and speculation about that thing you had previously in your mind. clear your mind and make a huge space in your mind, so you can pour your cup with absolute and original knowledge. Don’t make assumptions, instead of experience the thing consciously with all your senses.
To Get What You Want, Give Up What You Have Right Now
There is a saying that you can’t posses all the things in your life at once. You have to give up something to get something new.
Here I am talking about human habits. Whether its a bad habit or a good habit, you can’t have and new habit until you give up an existing one.
Let’s talk about the good one, Like from the past few days, I am trying to wake early in the morning (most of us trying since childhood). So, naturally, I am talking about developing a new habit or adopting a new habit. but wait Where this new habit will take the place? Where it’ll reside in our minds?
As there are already some pre-existing habits in place. So, those habits will not allow this new habit to take place in our minds. Yes, the habit of waking up late, due to the habit of sleeping late in the night.
So here all I am saying is that first of all, we need to give up the habit of staying awake late at night then automatically new habit of waking up in the morning will take place in the mind.
To get something that we want, first, we need to give up what we have right now. It applies to everything. If you want to be a great bodybuilder, first you have to get rid of the thin body by a proper diet plan and regular gym. That’s how it works
If you want to be brave or fearless, first of all you need to get rid of fear.