Discussion Forum

What does this Philosophical story mean?

I need to know what this Philosophy story means. 10 points to whoever tells me what this means.

Here is the story:

A university professor with multiple PhD’s and extensive studies
went to Japan and sought out a Zen master who was known to
have great knowledge of the sublime.
The Master welcomed the Professor and invited him in, offering
tea. As the Master was preparing the tea, the Professor listed all
his degrees and experiences and studies, going on and on showing
how much he knows. The Master stayed quiet all this time,
attentively preparing the tea and listening to the monologue.
As the professor kept talking, the master poured the tea, filling
the cup, and kept on pouring. When the professor noticed the tea
overflowing from the cup he cried out; “What kind of master are
you, can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master replied; “As the cup is full, putting more tea in is only
a waste. It must be empty first to receive and hold what it gets.”
Thanks, Dan.
Thanks, Dan.


  • The professor was being slightly arrogant, showing a lack of humility. By saying the cup is full, the master is saying that the professor is thinking too much. He must empty his cup so he is able to learn.

    Though by answering this question, I am being a bit like the professor. Oh well, life is learning.

Leave a Comment