‘A cup of tea’ (The Financial Athlete, #2)

Here’s a story of a Zen master, taken from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

A Cup of Tea

During the Meiji era (1868-1912) in Japan a university professor visited Nan-in to learn about Zen. However, Nan-in sensed the professor’s intent was to impress him with his own knowledge.

Nan-in served tea. He filled the professor’s cup but then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself, “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

Nan-in replied calmly, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
It’s not uncommon for investors to “marry” their stocks. In other words, they remain loyal for better or worse…too attached. Their “cups” are often filled with rigid preconceived notions. A good example of this is a firm, predetermined target price to sell. Often, this exit strategy is based upon an unrealistic target price.

In martial arts, beginners often guess where their opponent will strike. It’s not long before they guess wrongly and are struck with a punch or a kick. In contrast, an experienced martial artist empties or frees his mind of the noise of guesswork. Only this way can he fight effectively. He watches his opponent’s body language for cues of the next strike.

To empty the mind does not suggest an oblivious state of being. Rather, an empty mind sharply perceives its surroundings. An empty mind responds to what is, not fear or greed or endless rationalizations.

Empty your mind.


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