The Student as an Empty Cup

I was convicted by the words of Swami Satchidananda in The Living Gita: The Complete Bhavagad Gita-A Commentary for Modern Readers, for my journey forward as a student:

“When you go to a teacher saying, “I know a little bit, can you add a little more?” or, “I know, but can you verify it?” you are just going there to check your capabilities, not to learn anything new. If you want to learn, go empty and open. “I’m an empty cup; please pour in all you can.” If you go with a cup already full, even if the teacher pours something good, where will it go? It’s not that he or she is miserly; the teacher would like to pour, but it will overflow and go to waste. So empty your cup.”

~Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita: The Complete Bhavagad Gita-A Commentary for Modern Readers

I soaked in knowledge quickly as a child, and did well on tests, and I became very proud of my knowledge. But as the years passed, I found myself often head-to-head, particularly with athletic coaches, who found me very frustrating to try to coach. I would never do exactly what they asked of me unless it passed through all my filters first and made perfect sense. This would require lots of questions and logic before I felt convinced about the action. But I realize now that it was really just my weakness in wanting to feel that I accomplished something on my own. You see, if you already have most of the knowledge, and someone else adds a little bit, you can still feel most of the pride for the end result, wheras if you let someone direct you, you forfeit your egotistical pride.

I know this is probably something I will always struggle with, but I am grateful for Gurudev having shed some light on the path to becoming a better student and truth-seeker.