Emptying the Mind for New Insights

February 10, 2016

There is a Zen story of a professor who goes to see a monk.  The monk welcomes him, and the professor explains that he has come seeking wisdom from the monk.  With that, the professor begins to talk endlessly about his knowledge and what he has done in the world.  Finally the monk asks the professor if he would like some tea.  The professor nods yes, continuing to speak about his accomplishments.


The monk sets a cup in front of the professor and begins to pour.  He continues pouring the tea until the cup is overflowing, and the tea is spilling over on the floor. The astonished professor jumps up.

“What are you doing?”


“This cup,” the monk replies, “is very much like your mind. It doesn’t have room for anything else because it is already full.”



Is your mind filled up to the point of overflow?  How do you empty it?


Two-week vacations can be helpful.  What else enables you to clear your head and regain an expanded perspective and capacity for openness?  Vacations are few and far between, relative to the daily onslaught of information flying at us and questions arising. 


At SEED we offer this simple set of intentions to set the tone for a more productive meeting. Holding these intentions helps everyone maintain a more empty and open mind. People listen and everyone learns. New wisdom and discovery  emerge in the space between us--that's the magic of dialogue. 


We invite you to share this in your meetings, or whenever you want folks to let go of being right and become open to other perspectives. 



We’d love to hear how this works for you. Send an email or give a ring: 718-793-6509.



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About The Authors

Melinda Lackey is co-founder and director of SEED Impact, which to-date has assisted more than 300 diverse non-profit initiatives to communicate and coordinate action more efficiently, sustain higher performance and achieve greater social impact.


Contact Melinda at   possibilities@seedimpact.org

Barry Kibel, Ph.D., is Director of Innovation and Research at SEED.  He contributes more than five decades of experience devising evaluation and planning instruments to support transformational work.

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