Shoshin (Beginner’s Mind)

Shoshin (Beginner’s Mind)


One of the most profound secrets of learning anything new is keeping what has been called a “Beginner’s Mind”.
What is Beginner’s Mind? Well part of it is described very well by the famous Zen story known as:

Empty Your Cup

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

So to begin, we must all empty our cups of all the preconceived ideas, concepts, techniques and methods that prevent us from receiving the new. This seems like a simple thing to do, but can be quite difficult in practice. At first we think we are emptying our cups but as we drink from the new knowledge we detect residual tastes of the “old”. Sometimes this new mixture can be sweet, like adding honey to tea, but sometimes even a little residue can curdle the whole mix, like adding lemon juice to milk. We must not only empty our cups, but make sure we have a “clean receptacle” so we may taste the “true essence” of the new knowledge.



Leave a Reply