Reply from kelvintan
I have edited this text written by someone that did not leave his name, presumely a teacher.
Just sharing with metta.
Empty Your Cup
The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: "Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in." Nan-in said: "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
An empty cup won't do; the cup has to be broken completely. Even empty, if you are there, then you are full. Even emptiness fills you. If you feel that you are empty you are not empty at all, you are there. Only the name has changed: now you call yourself emptiness. The cup won't do at all; it has to be broken completely. Only when you are not can the tea be poured into you, only when you are not is there no need really to pour the tea into you. When you are not the whole existence begins pouring, the whole existence becomes a shower from every dimension, from every direction.
This professor of philosophy came to Nan-in. He must have come for wrong reasons: he must have come to receive some answers. Those people who are filled with questions are always in search of answers. And Nan-in cannot give an answer. It is foolish to be concerned with questions and answers. Nan-in can give you a new mind, Nan-in can give you a new being, Nan-in can give you a new existence in which no questions arise. But Nan-in is not interested in answering any particular questions. He is not interested in giving answers. Neither am I.
You must have many questions. It is bound to be so, because the mind gives birth to questions. Mind is a question-creating mechanism. Feed anything into it, out comes a question, and many questions follow. Give an answer to it; immediately it converts it into many questions. You are here, filled with many questions, your cup is already full. No need for Nan-in to pour any tea into it, you are already overflowing.
The professor must have been tired, walking long, when he reached Nan-in's cottage. And Nan-in said: "Wait a little." He must have been in a hurry. Mind is always in a hurry, and mind is always in search of instantaneous realizations. For the mind, to wait is very difficult, almost impossible. Nan-in said: "I will prepare tea for you. You look tired. Wait a little, rest a little, and have a cup of tea. And then we can discuss."
Nan-in boiled the water and started preparing the tea. But he must have been watching the professor. Not only was the water boiling, the professor was also boiling within. Not only was the tea kettle making sounds, the professor were making more sounds within, chattering, continuously talking. The professor must have been getting ready? What to ask, how to ask, from where to begin. He must have been in a deep monologue. Nan-in must have been smiling and watching: This man is too full, so much so that nothing can penetrate into him. The answer cannot be given because there is no one to receive it.
Then Nan-in poured tea into the cup. The professor became uneasy, because Nan-in was continuously pouring tea. It was overflowing; soon it would be going onto the floor. Then the professor said: "Stop! What are you doing? Now this cup cannot hold any more tea, not even a single drop. Are you mad? What are you doing?"
Nan-in said: "The same is the case with you. You are so alert to observe and become aware that the cup is full and cannot hold any more, why are you not so aware about your own self? You are overflowing with opinions, philosophies, doctrines, scriptures. You know too much already; I cannot give you anything. You have traveled in vain. Before coming to me you should have emptied your cup, then I could pour something into it."
No, an empty cup I won't allow, because if the cup is there you will fill it. You are so addicted and you have become so habituated that you cannot allow the cup to be empty even for a single moment. The moment you see emptiness anywhere you start filling it. You are so scared of emptiness, you are so afraid: emptiness appears like death. You will fill it with anything, but you will fill it. No, I have invited you to be here to break down this cup completely, so that even if you want to you cannot fill it.
Nan-in was saying to that professor: Bow down, surrender, empties your head. I am ready to pour. That professor had not even asked the question and Nan-in had given the answer, because really there is no need to ask the question. The question remains the same.
That's what Nan-in says: Empty the cup. That means empty the mind. Ego is there, overflowing, and when ego is overflowing nothing can be done. The whole existence is around you but nothing can be done. All around the divine...surrounded...but nothing can be done. From nowhere can the divine penetrate you, you have created such a citadel. Empty the cup. Rather, throw the cup completely. When I say throw the cup completely I mean be so empty that you don't have even the feeling that "I am empty."
Once it happened, a disciple came to Bodhidharma and said: "Master, you told me to be empty. Now I have become empty. Now what else do you say?"
Bodhidharma hit him hard with his staff on the head, and he said: "Go and throw this emptiness out."
If you say: "I am empty," the "I am" is there, and the "I" cannot be empty. So emptiness cannot be claimed. No one can say: "I am empty," just as no one can say: "I am humble." If you say: "I am humble," you are not. Who claims this humility? Humbleness cannot be claimed. If you are humble, you are humble, but you cannot say it. Not only can you not say it, you cannot feel that you are humble because the very feeling will give birth to the ego again. Be empty, but don't think that you are empty, otherwise you have deceived yourself.
It always happens when a Buddha is there: his physical presence becomes so meaningful. Then, when he dies, everything is shattered. Even a disciple like Ananda, Gautama Buddha's most intimate disciple, started crying and weeping when Buddha said: "Now I have to leave this body." For forty years Ananda was with Buddha twenty-four hours, just like a shadow. He started crying and weeping like a child; suddenly he had become an orphan.
Buddha asked: "What are you doing?"
Ananda said: "It will be impossible now for me to grow. I couldn't grow when you were there so how can I grow now? It may now be millions of lives before I come across a Buddha again, so I am lost."
Buddha said: "My understanding is different, Ananda. When I am not there you may become enlightened immediately, because this has been my feeling? You have become too much attached to me, and that attachment is working like a block. You have become too attached to me; that very attachment is working like a barrier."
And this happened as Buddha said. The day Buddha died, Ananda became enlightened. There was nothing to cling to then. But why wait? When I die, then you will become enlightened? Why wait?
Suffering is there. It is part of life and part of growth; nothing is bad in it. Suffering becomes evil only when it is simply destructive and not creative at all; suffering becomes bad only when you suffer and nothing is gained out of it. The divine can be gained through suffering; then it becomes creative. Darkness is beautiful if the dawn is coming out of it soon; darkness is dangerous if it is endless, leads to no dawn, simply continues and continues and you go on moving
Don't look to society and its condemnation. Nobody is to judge you here and nobody can pretend to be a judge. Don't judge others and don't be perturbed and disturbed by others' judgment. You are alone and you are unique. You never were before, you never will be again. You are beautiful. Accept it. And whatsoever happens, allow it to happen and pass through it. Soon, suffering will be learning; then it has become creative.
Fear will give you fearlessness. Out of anger will come compassion. Out of the understanding of hate, love will be born to you. But this happens not in a conflict, but in a passing-through with alert awareness. Accept, and pass through it. And if you make it a point to pass through every experience, then there will be death, the most intense experience. Life is nothing before it because life cannot be so intense as death.
Life is spread out over a long time? Seventy years, one hundred years. Death is intense because it is not spread out? It is in a single moment. Life has to pass one hundred years or seventy years, it cannot be so intense. Death comes in a single moment; it comes whole, not fragmentary. It will be so intense you cannot know anything more intense. But if you are afraid, if before death comes you have escaped, you have become unconscious because of the fear, you have missed one of the golden opportunities, the golden gate. If your whole life you have been accepting things, when death comes, patiently, passively you will accept and enter into it without any effort to escape. If you can enter death passively, silently, without any effort, death disappears. When Krishna, Christ, Buddha, Mahavira say you are deathless, they are not talking about a doctrine, they are talking about their own experience.
Empty, it is coming back to the original source, because through emptiness we are born and into emptiness we return. Emptiness is the word, really, which is better to use than God, because with God we start feeling there, is some person. So Buddha never uses God, he always uses shunyata, emptiness, nothingness. In the center you are a non-being, nothingness, just a vast space, eternally cool, silent, and blissful.