Zen Story: Learn to Unlearn to Learn Something New

This Zen Story will help us learn new things by learning how to unlearn things we have already learned. If you know one thing from a single perspective and you know it is right, you wouldn’t be willing to learn it from a different perspective because you think what you know is right. When you know what you know is right, why to learn that again, right?

Zen Story: A Cup of Tea

Zen Story, A Cup of Tea, Unlearn ThingsOnce there was a very famous learned man who almost had every certificate in all the educational fields. This man had no competition at all anywhere. He was assured about his learning that he knew everything. As a matter of fact, he could answer every question that came from the society to him.

The only thing he didn’t know was ‘How to unlearn learned things to learn new things?’. An old man, once, met the learned man and asked what he had learned from the Buddhist Monk. The learned man was surprised that there was still someone else who he had to learn from. Out of curiosity, the learned man asked the old man, “Where does this Buddhist Monk reside?”.

“On the top of the hill”, the old man replied. At the very moment, He took all his certificates and started his journey to meet the Buddhist Monk. He found the monk sitting in silent untouched by his visit. Soon after the introductions of each other, the learned man displays all his certifications to the monk.

The monk, with a kind smile, asks him the reason why he had come. “I have come here to learn something new from you”, replies the learned man. Then the monk takes him inside and asks whether he would like some tea. The learned man gives an affirmation sign.

The monk prepares the tea and starts pouring the tea in a cup which gets filled, but the monk doesn’t stop there. The tea spills on the saucer, but the monk doesn’t stop there either. The learned man thinks the monk as stupid and asks him to stop pouring the tea. He yells at the monk telling the cup is full and the tea is getting wasted.

The monk keeps pouring the tea and the tea spills on the bed and then on the floor. The learned, loosing his patience, exclaims, “YOU FOOL, STOP POURING THE TEA! DON’T YOU SEE THE TEA IS GOING WASTE?”.

The Buddhist Monk gently replies, “You see, when your mind is already full, you can’t learn anything new just as the cup couldn’t afford to take the tea after it was full. All the tea was wasted just because the cup was full. Similarly, you can’t learn things from different perspective, if you take it for granted that whatever you know is right and true.”.

Whatever you see is just a perception and whatever you hear is an opinion.

If you have the above quote in your mind, there are no barriers for learning. You can keep on learning things without any hindrance. The more you learn, the more you will know that you know nothing and you have so much to learn.

This is a good zen story. When you know, you are right there are very less chances to learn. Because if you are right, why learn something wrong? But, if you think you are right and know you may be wrong allows you to retain what you know but are still open to improve, correct and expand on it.

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