Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Parable

Nan-in, a Japanese master server during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served iced tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

“You idiot!” cried the professor. “You got iced tea all over me! You’re going to pay for my dry cleaning.”

Moral: It does not matter how enlightened you are; as a server you are still subject to those who are not.


  1. 1)Nice parable. 2) What a wonderful way to go. It just seems so peaceful and cathartic. I'll file that under the "Possibilities For My Last Day at the Lux" category.

  2. I didn't think they had either iced-tea or dry-cleaning (or hyphenations) in the Meiji era.