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Empty your Cup

by | Nov 3, 2014

Boston Martial Arts Center

A Cup of Tea

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

— “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” Paul Reps

This old story has many parts to it that relate to our lives. One of the many important points I learned from it is to empty your cup of expectations, live in the moment. Our inner awareness about what our mind is doing is very important within the context of our lives and martial art training, self-defense. At the start of class at the Boston Martial Arts Center we start with a short inner exercise that brings the students and instructor into a moment of focus (Kime) and clears the mind.

It is very important to learn to seize the moment and to be clear and open in the now. My students have found that this moment of focus allows them to clear away any daily noise that can cloud and distract them.

It is also important to develop this skill to be able handle situations as they develop and to help the universe flow better. This training is helpful for all ages, and we include it in both the adults’ and children’s classes.