How Can Your Cup Be Filled If It Is Already Full?

Yesterday evening my wife and I discovered an Asian boutique store in our mall and grabbed a copy of the Chinese Uncut version of 'The Forbidden Kingdom' starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li (I collect Hong Kong movies and have over 45 Jackie Chan movies).

One lesson that Jackie Chan was teaching his student stuck with me and made me reflect on the Tao Te Ching that I read every night.

The student constantly spoke about all the various styles of martial arts - Crane, Snake, etc. - and Jackie Chan asked him to hold out his cup.

The student did so and Jackie Chan started pouring water into it. When it started overflowing, the student said that his cup was full and Jackie could stop.

Jackie Chan kept pouring and the student said it was overflowing.

That was when Jackie Chan responded by asking: "How can I fill your cup if it is already filled?"

Then he explained:

The cup represented the student's brain - a vessel for knowledge - and it was Jackie Chan's job as the master to fill it but the student already believed he knew everything and his vessel was full.

Anything he would now be taught would merely overflow and he would not learn anything new.

You believe that your cup is already full and so your mind is not open to learning new things.

I love Chinese culture and lessons, afterall, they have been around for more than 5,000 years (contrast that to 200 for America).

I was attracted to the Tao Te Ching in college while I minored in Religion and studied Asian Religions. The Tao Te Ching says this:

The thirty spokes unite in the one center; but it is on the empty space for the axle that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out from the walls to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space that its use depends. Therefore, whatever has existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what does not have existence for actual usefulness

The most useful part of a wheel, a jar, a pot or a house - are the hollow parts.

Are you creating the space in your own vessel to be able to fill it with knowledge?

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