The Story of a Simple Cup of Tea

Zen Koans Explained

Those who are familiar with Zen and Eastern Philosophy have probably heard of Zen Koans. A Koan is a story designed to provoke “great doubt” and test a student’s progress in the Zen practice.

To those not steeped in Zen practice, a Koan is a remarkably elementary story with very complex meanings. This Zen Koan explains the meaning behind a simple cup of tea.

What Tea Can Teach You

There was a Japanese Zen master named Nan-in who lived during the Meiji era (1868-1912). During his days as a teacher, he was visited by a university professor curious about Zen.

Being polite, Nan-in served the professor a cup of tea.

As he poured, the professor’s cup became full, but Nan-in kept on pouring. As the professor watched the cup overflow, he could no longer contain himself and said, “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

Nan-in turned to the professor and said, “Like the cup, you are too full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Explaining This Zen Koan

Like all Zen Koans, this one explains a very simple concept: it seeks to illustrate that learning a new skill requires an open mind. Since everything that we do at Gloveworx is about learning and applying new skills, emptying your cup is an essential step.

Too often we think we know everything, especially as we begin to get better at a skill. What we do at Gloveworx is just as much about the mental component of being UNSTOPPABLE. With every session, remember to first empty your cup, open your mind, and carefully consider everything our coaches are telling you—even if you’ve heard it before.

Your Guides at Gloveworx

When you visit the Gloveworx studio, your guides and teachers are the coaches. Everyone that works with you in the studio at Gloveworx wears a shirt that says COACH on the back. This is a word that we take very seriously. Coaches are there to expand your skills and facilitate your progress—they focus 100% on helping you get better.

Our coaches take the time to make sure every client has a program that’s tailored to their capabilities and goals, and we program each session to ensure you get the most out of it. The next time you get ready to open the door to the studio, take a moment, close your eyes, and empty your cup before you walk in.