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?”
A professor comes to learn how to set aside previous knowledge, and judgements, to learn more from an unlikely source. Just as a master of another art or profession must learn to let go of his previous assumptions so that he can be open to greater understanding.