A Cup of Tea Explained by Zen
御茶一服 o-cha ippuku


A scholar called upon Master Nanin* to enquire about Zen.

Nanin poured the tea, but he continued to pour even when the cup had overflowed.

“Master, the tea is overflowing. You can stop pouring now.”

“Just like this cup, your head is overflowing with your views and opinions. When you have emptied your cup, then come and enquire what zen is.”


...You cannot hear the words of others if you hold preconceptions about things. When talking with others, most are impatient to voice their own opinions. What results is that people only hear their own voice. Therefore the only thing left resounding in their minds is their own opinion.



*Nanin Zenji was a zen monk who lived in the Meiji Era. ‘Zenji’ is a title given by the Court to honourable monks.


Image: @minenomatsu