Leave Space

There’s a nice zen story about a monk named Nan-in who received a visiting professor at his house. Nan-in fills the cup to the top, and then keeps pouring. Immediately, the professor shouts, “Can’t you see that the glass is full. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” says Nan-in, “you are full of your own opinions. How can I teach you about zen if you do not empty your cup first?”

God often is teaching us lessons that we don’t hear, because our cups are already full. If we want to grow, we have to leave a space around our beliefs. We have to go out beyond being right or wrong. We have to enter an area of “not-knowing.”

So someone offends us, say, and instead of reacting we just do nothing. We hear a part of our minds telling us what to do, but for a moment, we go against our programming. We leave space.

And in that space, maybe ten minutes, maybe ten hours, maybe even ten days later, God comes in and teaches us things about the world that are so much more beautiful and magical than our old, stale opinions. Once we begin to hear Him, we no longer want to have opinions about anything. They’re so limiting… and for some reason, we’re constantly defending these limitations!

It reminds me of those video games where you are given a territory surrounded by black. As you expand into the black areas, they become visible; suddenly you see trees, or bushes, or a river. If you don’t explore, though, the areas remain black. It’s a nice graphic touch. Not only do you see where you’ve been, you also get to see where you haven’t been.

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