Knowing

A young single father had a son that he loved more than anything in the world. One day while the father was away, some plunderers burned down most of his village and kidnapped the little boy.

When the father came back, he mistook one of the burnt corpses as his son. Completely devastated, he had the body cremated, and put the ashes in a bag that he always carried around.

Days later, his son escaped from the plunderers, ran back home, and knocked on the door of the house that his father rebuilt. His father asked who it was. When the boy answered, “It’s me, your son—please let me in,” the father, who was still holding the bag of ashes, assumed it was some other boy playing a cruel joke. “Go away,” he shouted back.

The boy continued to knock and plead to the father, but the father continued to tell him to leave. Finally, the boy left and never came back again.

Empty Your Cup


A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

– Unknown, Zen Tradition.