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Empty Your Cup

One of my favorite stories concerns famed martial artist, Bruce Lee, and his desire to be trained by a local Master. At the time, Bruce had extensive fight experience and a background in martial arts training. He approached the Master, and after making the customary bows, asked him to be his teacher.

At that time, Bruce began to talk about his experience and rambled on and on about the many fights he had won. The Master listened patiently and then began to make tea. When it was ready, he poured the tea into Bruce’s cup. As Bruce watched, the cup slowly filled until it began to overflow, first on to the table and then on to the floor. While trying to be respectful Bruce couldn’t hold it in any longer and shouted, "Stop, stop! The cup is full; you can't get any more in."

The master stopped pouring and said, "You are like this cup; you are full of ideas and opinions. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can't put anything in. Before I can teach you, you will have to empty your cup."

This story is an old one that surely has been retold throughout the generations, but it continues to be played out in our day-to-day lives. We are so enamored of our own ideas and opinions, and so trapped by our conditioning that we fill ourselves up to the brim and nothing new can get in. Empty your cup!

Throughout my own life I’ve noticed that I have had to empty my cup, haven’t you? I’ve noticed that in our own lives we sometimes get in our own way because we think we’re experts at something. Because of this, we become judgers instead of analyzers. We become filled with our own ideas, judgments, and opinions that keep us from learning and processing new information.

If you allow it, life can be a very interesting and dynamic process of learning. Life is a journey; it’s a process that presents us with new stimulus every single day, new ideas every single day, new occurrences every single day.

If you’re in a relationship, there are new dynamics that reveal themselves every single day. The good news is, you have the capacity to experience all of it, or most of it. The bad news is, you very rarely will because your cup is still full of past experiences… Past drama, past labels, past truths, that have rendered you incapable of being open to the new dynamics, the new stimulus of your life and of your journey.

How would your life benefit from emptying your cup right now? Emptying your cup from your past relationships, from your past dramas, from your past betrayals, from your past judgments. Imagine how your life could benefit from this!

Empty your cup! Empty your cup of the idea that you’re not in charge of your life. Empty your cup of the idea that you can’t change the world around you. Empty your cup of the idea that you are powerless to refine and improve your life. Empty your cup of those habits, ideas, and philosophies that hinder your ability to experience, learn, and enjoy all the new dynamics this journey reveals to you.

Steve Maraboli


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