Whatever you do, do with kindness.
Whatever you say, say with kindness.
Wherever you go, radiate kindness.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie
YOUR TEACUP IS FULL-A ZEN STORY
Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.
One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.
The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”
A few nights ago, a friend from Arizona came to spend the night..he was on his way to Colorado to visit his sister and our place was a good place to stop and rest.
I had been feeling kind of sad and drained of energy from an experience that happened the day before. I had been really looking forward to meeting with someone about my loss and grief mini workshops that I am planning to offer in northern New Mexico. At one time, I presented these workshops in cities and towns all over the US but I had taken a long break and now I felt ready to begin them again. If you’re interested, you can read about them here.
So I looked forward to meeting with this person–I felt she would be a kindred spirit- and I had brought my book of memorials that were made by people in the workshops, and other things to show her..but she didn’t like me. Every time I tried to say something, she interrupted and in every way she could, she discounted my experience, even telling me that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s work was completely irrelevant. “She was a pioneer in her day” she said in a superior and condescending manner “But we don’t use her work in OUR bereavement groups.”
Elisabeth was my friend and the most significant teacher in my life, as she was for thousands of people worldwide. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for her and this woman’s words cut into me. And though she kept smiling and telling me ‘Good Luck’ as she hurried me out the door, I knew she would do whatever she could to discount me in this small town. An image appeared in my mind of something I had seen years before, the image of something I had seen happen at the Apollo Theater in Harlem….when the audience didn’t like a performer, someone came with a broom and literally swept him or her off the stage. And sure enough, I got an email the next day from someone who had previously contacted me and set up a meeting, saying in so many words that she was busy from now until forever and would not be able to meet.
True listening is a rare skill. Usually, the greater part of a person’s attention is taken up by their thinking. At best, they may be evaluating your words or preparing the next thing to say. Or they may not be listening at all, lost in their own thoughts.
After I left the woman’s house, I went to get some lunch. Not having much money these days, I don’t eat out very often but when I do it’s a special occasion. So I was looking forward to having lunch as a way of comforting myself when I sat down in a restaurant I liked, prepared to order Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. But there was no peace….every where I looked there was a huge TV blaring. I moved to what I thought was a quite corner and just as I was about to take a bite of my salad, I looked to my left and there was another TV with a huge, bare butt taking up most of the screen. I couldn’t believe it……I looked again..yes that’s what it was..a show about butt injections and it went on to show the procedure.
I left disgusted and repulsed and I realized this day was in part, about not listening….people who can’t or won’t listen, restaurants with TVs everywhere making it impossible to listen, even if you want to.
So this was my state of my mind….sad, drained and tired of humans ….when Don walked into our house.
But the second he came in the door, everything changed as a wave of Happiness entered with him, as if it blew in. It wasn’t anything he did or said..it was him, his energy…happiness, kindness, humor..listening. We had a nice fire in the wood stove and Jody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] and Don and I sat by the fire laughing and talking for hours.
Don left the next morning early but he left me with the realization of how our energy affects everyone around us….like ripples in the water, it reaches out and out in ways we aren’t even aware of….hurting or comforting….bringing happiness or sadness…joy or anger…a Very Powerful Force that we all have available to us…
Below is an audio clip of the spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle talking about how to deal with people who hurt you…..another way of seeing and very helpful
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