The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor’s cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: “Stop! The cup is overfull, no more will go in.” Nan-in said, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Once a frog from the ocean came and jumped into a well. He got acquainted with the frog in the well and the well frog asked, ‘From where do you come?’ He said, ‘I have come from the ocean.’ The well frog asked, ‘Is it bigger than this well?’ Of course suspicion was in his eyes, doubt in his mind, ‘How can anything be bigger than this well where I live?’ The ocean frog laughed and said, ‘It is very difficult to say anything because there is no measure.’ The well frog said, ‘Then I will give you some measure so that you can.’ He jumped one quarter of the well, one fourth of the way across, and said, ‘Is it that big?’ The ocean frog laughed and said, ‘No.’ So he jumped half of the well, and said, ‘Is it that big?’ Again the ocean frog laughed and said, ‘No.’ Then he jumped three quarters and said, ‘Is it that big?’ Again the ocean frog said, ‘No.’ Then he jumped the whole well, the whole length, and said, ‘Now – now you cannot say no.’ The ocean frog said, ‘You may feel hurt, and I don’t want to be offensive, but still the answer is no.’ Then the well frog said, ‘Get out from here, you liar. Nothing can be bigger than this well!’
There is a Sufi story: It happened in the life of Omar, a great Mohammedan Caliph. He was fighting with an enemy for thirty years. The enemy was very strong and the fight continued – a lifetime of war. In the end, it happened one day that the opportunity came. The enemy fell off his horse and Omar jumped on him with his spear. In just one second the spear would have pierced the heart of the man and everything would have been finished. But in that small gap the enemy did one thing: he spat on Omar’s face – and the spear stopped. Omar touched his face, got up and told the enemy, ‘Tomorrow we start again.’ The enemy was puzzled. He said, ‘What is the matter? I have been waiting for this for thirty years, and you have been waiting for this for thirty years.
I have been waiting, hoping that someday or other I would be on your chest with my spear and the thing would be finished. That opportunity never came to me, but it came your way. You could have finished me in a single moment. What is the matter with you?’