The More I Learn …

The More I Learn …

Have you ever come across a story of a young monk going up the mountain to learn from a wise old monk? I could only remember some parts of the story and thus I apologized for any changes to the recollection here.

The story goes:

A Long time ago, there was a smart young man who thought that he knew everything. One day he heard about a very wise monk living in the mountain and decided to seek knowledge from him. After several days of traveling, the young man finally reached the temple where the wise monk stayed.

Kneeling in front of the wise monk, the young man respectfully said, “Master, I have come to seek knowledge from you.” The wise monk, who had long heard about the young man, brought out a teapot and two empty cups. He started pouring tea into the cup of the young man until it was filled to the brim and overflowing.

The young man respectfully said, “Master, the tea cup is fulled and overflowing already. The cup can no longer take anymore tea.”

The wise monk said, “like the filled cup, your knowledge is overflowing. There is nothing more I can teach you unless you empty your cup first.

How often did we come across a subject and the first reaction that fired up was, “I knew that already?” Yes, it happened to me. And I will consciously remind myself to empty my cup. This can be especially challenging when we are touching on areas of our expertises. We can be our own worst stumbling blocks.

When we are challenged on our thoughts, most will immediately set up a protective shield. The shield may effectively protect us from being shot down but it may also screened out all the beneficial information and thus hampering our own growth. Are we then to empty our cups readily and quickly? It did look like the wise monk was teaching us to do that.

If we are to do that, we will be like grasses on the wall; swaying whichever ways the wind blows. There will be times when we need to stand firmly to defend our thoughts. So the wise monk was wrong? Not exactly. I believe what the wise monk meant was for us to have a mind that is open and receptive to new ideas and thoughts.

We must be prepared to absorb new information and to change our perspectives if we are proven wrong in the process. We must always be humbled to learning. Like a parachute, the mind works best when it is opened.

There is a famous quotation that goes, “The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.” I believe that learning is a lifelong process, as long as we live, we must continue our learning.

Photo by Egahen

Back to School Savings from

Stalk me
Share the joy

23 thoughts on “The More I Learn …

  1. Pat jenkins

    not believing we “know it all” is a humility we all can use! but i want to make sure i have a bigger cup to hold my tea, because i never want it completely filled so there is always room for more!!
    .-= Pat jenkins ´s last blog ..Alive =-.

  2. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ VanillaSeven, thank you for sharing that quotation, “I know I’m filled to be emptied again.” Probably your new boss need to read this post. Haha. One thing I think we need to know is that our bosses may not necessary be good manager. 🙂

    @ Pat, indeed, not believing we “know it all” set us to be always in the mood of learning. It is good to learn, unlearn and relearn. 🙂

  3. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Jude, I believe most went through such a stage in their lives at least once. At time when one gets too confident, one tends to forget that no one person is invincible … until the fall comes. Then one will ‘wake’ up and realize that maybe they don’t know it all.

    @ Mrs4444, learning new things can be challenging to some especially when they have fallen into their comfort zones.

  4. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ ECL, you are right, even Ralph Waldo Emerson mentioned, “In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”

    @ Karen, yes learning is a lifelong process; we are learning from day to day.

  5. Chinaren

    I think it’s a pretty poor simile actually. You don’t forget what you already know to learn more, you *use* what you have learned already and build upon that.

    Thus, as Pat said above, you should actually just get a bigger cup.

    These ‘wise men’ stories annoy me sometimes. 😉
    .-= Chinaren´s last blog ..Obama checks out woman’s behind. =-.

  6. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Chinaren, indeed sometimes such stories may be annoying since the stories came out from the minds of others and may very often have differing views and perspective. No two individuals will always agree with each other completely. And since opinions and perspectives are different for each individual, how one perceived the story will be different from others also. Not to mention one may even perceive the story differently in different stage of one’s life.

    You brought in a perspective which I was most concerned when I shared this story and that was “we need to forget what we already knew to learn more.” What I perceived, I might be wrong, as I mentioned above was for us to have a mind that was receptive to learning new ideas and thoughts; We do not ‘literally’ forget what we learn. And in a way similar to what you said, “you ‘use’ what you have learned already and build upon that.” I believe the wise monk meant it that way too. An idea of a bigger cup is interesting. We may need to change cup constantly. 😉

  7. Sweet Mummy

    That’s an excellent story. I hadn’t heard it before – at least not this way. The concept of emptying oneself before being able to be filled any more is not new, but I like how this story captures it. A good reminder!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, too. I AM doing much better now!!
    .-= Sweet Mummy´s last blog ..2.5 weeks later – An everyday miracle =-.

  8. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Liferamblings, I would like to add a word ‘applied.’ Applied knowledge is power. There is a quotation that goes something like, “knowing and not doing is yet to know.” 🙂

    @ DailyLifeQuotes, you are most welcome.