A mentor of mine tells a wonderful parable about a man who wanted to learn from the wisest man in all the land. Once the seeker is granted audience with the wise man, this venerated teacher offers his guest tea. The guest, not wanting to be impolite, quietly accepts, anxious for his lesson to begin. Soon the cup is full and the master does not stop pouring. The man cries out, “Master, what are you doing? My cup is full!” “Yes, my friend, replies the Master, and as long as your cup is full, you have no room for me to share my knowledge with you.”
Well, that is one perspective, keeping one’s cup half empty so there is always room in the top half for more to come in. However, the switch was recently flipped on this script when attending a play, I heard the mandate to give from the overflow. This time the story was told from a woman’s perspective and the story involved a tea cup and a saucer. The Master kept pouring and soon the tea was spilling over the brim of the cup and into the saucer and over the edge of the saucer. This Master proclaimed “keep your cup full and give from your overflow. And then there is more than enough.” This version of the parable really struck a cord.
I know some terrific people who give and give and give. Almost always to the point of exhaustion, their cups empty. They crash and burn, only to rise again, never letting their cups get filled to overflowing doomed to always repeat the cycle of giving from their full cup, exhaustion, filling up and then exhaustion again. Until finally one day, they find they can’t get up again, all too often overcome with mental or physical disease, many self medicating by over eating, drinking or using other substances, others overcome by despair and depression. Some just seem to crumple up like something disposable, so deeply fatigued they are unable to ever fill up again.
What if we learned to live from our overflow? To imagine our lives from a place of love, abundance and peace such that the cup of our wellbeing was always full and the essence of our overflow allowed us to show up with grace and ease? To remind myself of what is possible from the overflow, I am going to buy myself a beautiful tea cup and saucer and keep pouring til it runs over and then I am going to remember to fill myself up with the goodness of life, my cup runneth over. Tea anyone?