June 23, 2011
The empty spaces
within a lily allow
bees to recreate.
One of the first Zen stories I ever heard, and still one of my favorites is this:
“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?’”
As a teacher and coach, I always found it easiest to teach those who knew little or nothing. They had no misconceptions to de-construct; no bad habits to break; no expectations to disappoint.
It is interesting that also in sports it is the empty spaces that seem to matter most: the circle of the hoop in basketball, the goal in soccer, the goalposts in football, the empty space above home plate in baseball, the hole in golf. Teams create empty spaces between players to function most efficiently and effectively, for example, basketball players on a fast break, soccer players trying to score a goal, hockey players on a power play.
It is in these empty spaces that we recreate, that we create again. If there were no empty spaces, we could not create. A bee could not pollinate this flower if it did not create an empty space for the bee to be.