Overflowing thoughts

An 85-year old Ivatan woman sitting at her house’s door by Anne Jimenes, 2007, Creative Commons

A peaceful woman sat quietly on her front porch drinking her tea and watching the birds frolic. One day a stranger was walking by and saw the peaceful woman sitting on the porch. Taken by her calm abiding, she asked if she could join her. The peaceful woman welcomed the stranger, and offered her a cup of tea.

The stranger accepted, sat down, and began to talk and talk and talk. She talked about her past. She talked about her future. She talked about everything except the moment. And as she talked the old woman poured the tea, and kept pouring and pouring and pouring.

The stranger noticed that the tea was overflowing. She exclaimed: “The cup is full. It is overflowing and nothing more will go into it!”*

The peaceful woman responded: “Like this cup your mind is full of thoughts about this and that.” Then she asked, “How can you take in this beautiful moment if your mind is already full?”

Many of us are strangers to ourselves. We are given a beautiful moment in time, but our thoughts chatter on about this and about that, never calming enough to take in the beauty. We are strangers to the Self through our own incessant thinking.

Freedom from incessant thought does not mean that we must end all of our worldly activities, or give up on our dreams and aspirations. Instead it means orienting back to the eternal nature of the Self as it appears in each moment and all things.

*Based on an old Zen story.