Expanding Awareness

An Adventure Stories Initiative
Avatars, Expanding Awareness and Tea Cups

Expanding Awareness Zen Master

Deep in the mountains of Japan there lived an ancient Zen Master. Of all the teachers of Zen he was known as the simplest and wisest of all the sages. Many people sought him out for his council, even the Emperor himself would ask the old holy man for his suggestions.

There were many young people who wished to be the student of this master. They would arrive each day, hoping that they would be granted approval to learn from the ancient avatar. Many came to see him. Most were turned away. They did not have the necessary discipline and simplicity.

On a particularly cold winter’s day one such young man arrived at the avatar’s front door. The old Zen master welcomed him in out of the cold, immediately boiling some water to make tea. The teacher could see the young man was cold and wet from tramping about in the snow. He stoked up the fire and offered the young man a change of dry clothing. The young man refused the offer and said he only wanted to get down to business.

He wanted, more than anything in the world, to become a student of the wise man. The old sage nodded his head and went into the kitchen to fetch the tea that was brewing. When he returned the young man began to tell the avatar exactly why he should be accepted as the master’s new student.

The wise old sage began to pour some tea and the young man took this as his cue to begin his creative resume. He told the old avatar of all the masters he had already studied with. He rambled on about all his intellectual achievements at the university. He spoke of the awards he had won. He was about to tell the sage how he had beaten his last mentor in a debate and that that was his reason for coming…

When he saw that the master was just pouring and pouring and pouring tea into one cup. In fact the cup was totally overflowing, spilling tea all over the table. “What are you doing master!?” the young man exclaimed.

The old avatar looked at the young man and softly said: “There is nothing I can teach you. Your cup is completely full. It is so full in fact it is overflowing. Until you empty your cup, you can learn nothing.

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