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Zen, Part four

Sorry folks, I got swamped on Friday and didn’t get out this last part of the Zen section. Tomorrow will start the Q&A messages until I run out of good questions. If you have a question, TODAY is an excellent time to ask. Just send them to

Our first Koan:


A Cup of Tea

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?”


And there is the core of “zazen” right there. You need to empty your mind of the clutter of this world. Not necessarily just your day-to-day business and life-worries, but your preconceptions about the universe and life itself. Things are rarely what they seem at first, worries about the past or future have no value, and are in fact bad for you. Just clear your mind and “be here, now.”

3 comments to Zen, Part four

  • David

    In any of the different branches of buddhism, Is there a difference between men and women? Do Monks and Nuns have the same status?

  • That’s tough to say. Historically, men who were monks got priority over the nuns. I don’t know of any special scripture that supports this, I would assume it’s just the old cliche about “it’s man’s world.”

    I have read that the Dalai Lama has been fighting hard to get more women ordained as monks and to get them “equal rights.”

    It’s really a social issue more than a religious one. Women are socially beneath men in most Eastern cultures, and always have been. While that may seem outrageous to us in the West today, things are very slow to change back in the East. If you really think about it, women are still at a social disadvantage right here today. It’s changing, but it’s a slow process.

  • kathleen

    One step at a time.
    Tolerance is becoming greater as women are
    increasingly joining the ranks of Buddhism.
    Remember….women are the principal care-givers
    to all those little Buddhists growing up.
    In Viet-Nam women are now accepted as nuns,
    and have been known in history to perpetuate
    beliefs when men were not available.
    This link may prove useful in relation to women
    in the history of Buddhism.