If I was simply living
I would be too simple
For those who make living too complicated
To take simplicity seriously

Ryokan, a Zen monk, had been living in a monastery for many years, studying and practicing Zen. When he left the monastery, he decided to live as a hermit, free from all worldly possessions and attachments.

He settled under a bridge and lived there for many years, wearing the tattered shoes of a dead man he found by the roadside. He was content with his simple life, spending his days meditating, writing poetry, and playing with the children in the nearby village.

One day, a former classmate from the monastery came to visit Ryokan. The classmate was surprised to see Ryokan living in such poverty and asked him why he didn’t wear better shoes or live in a nicer place. Ryokan replied, “I have no worries. I am happy just as I am.”

The classmate was perplexed and asked Ryokan what he had learned during his years of Zen practice. Ryokan poured tea for his visitor, but continued to pour even after the cup was full, spilling tea all over the table. The classmate asked him to stop, saying the cup was already full. Ryokan replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

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Hopefully the classmate got up and said “clean up the mess you’ve made”, and left.

I’m hoping the classmate said, “I don’t get it. Am I spilling over constantly, or only when I need to drive something home?”

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