Keep an empty cup

Who knows when it might come handy

Supriya Sharma
2 min readAug 17, 2020


Picture by Supriya Sharma

The problem with finding an answer is that it often marks the death of a question, thus, paving way for satiation and constructing a roadblock for growth. One needs to be alert and constantly seeking improvement, after all, you are your competition. This state of alertness is the beginner’s mindset.

I will share a story from the ancient Samurai which I used to curiously follow as a kid. I made sure I completed my homework before the evening telecast of this show so mom had no reason to not let me watch.

The irony is that I couldn’t ever make sense out of it until I set foot in the corporate world, where nothing was enough — the degree one had, the courses one had gone through, the books one had laid hands on or the professional network one was a part of; different decisions required a unique set of knowledge and skill.

Here’s how the story goes.

The Samurai were the warriors of premodern Japan. They later made up the ruling military class that eventually became the highest ranking social caste of the Edo Period. Among them, there was a very learned warrior who visited the Zen monk in order to quench his curiosity and a desire to attain perfection. He asked the monk to teach him the beginner’s mindset that every true Samurai possesses. The monk said, “I will be happy to do this, but, first perhaps you would like a cup of tea.” Since it had been a long journey, the warrior agreed. The monk went off to make tea and returned with the teapot and a full cup of tea. He gave the full cup to the warrior and then began pouring in more. The hot tea went into the warrior’s lap badly burning him. “What are you doing?”, the warrior cried jumping to his feet. “The cup was already filled and you kept pouring”, the monk smiled at this comment of the warrior. He later related, “The cup is a symbol of your mind. You came with a full cup. There was no place for anything new. You thought you knew it all but the mind of the Samurai is never full. It is always empty, always ready to receive something new.”

Be a Samurai — have a beginner’s mindset, keep space for novelty to graze your brain. Summarising it in the trainers’ jargon— Learn , Unlearn & Relearn!

PS: You must be wondering that the story is about tea but the picture depicts a coffee cup, well, that’s because I fancy coffee to tea ;)



Supriya Sharma

♥️ — Proud Daughter, Charmed Sister, Juliet sans Romeo; 🧠 — CX Alchemist, Business Strategist, Leadership Evangelist, Author, Investor