“Empty your cup” is a common mantra used to teach enlightenment in many disciplines, but what does it mean? To truly gain wisdom and understanding you must make room for new ideas to enter.

Take for example the parable of the Master trying to explain a lesson to one of his advanced students. Each time the master spoke to him; he measured what he heard against the many years of knowledge and experience he had already gained. Although this was a normal response; it prevented the student from growing further.

To demonstrate this point; the master decided to share tea with his student. He filled both of their cups full to the brim; then told his student “I wish to share my tea with you”. As he poured tea from his cup into the student’s, it overflowed, spilling onto the table and floor below. The student, looking perplexed said “Master, I cannot take the tea you want to give me without emptying my cup first.” “Exactly!” said the master.

After a moment, a look of understanding and realization came over the students face.

The lesson in this often shared parable is that we cannot grow further when we become to set in our ways, or rigid in our understanding of how things work. When we embrace our knowledge, we must also accept that knowledge and wisdom have no limits, and that our understanding will always be limited. In life, there truly are no masters, because there is always more to know, experience and understand.

It’s often when we struggle that we deal with this dilemma. We attempt to solve problems by conforming the issue to our previous understanding; rather than letting go and allowing new solutions or ideas to flow to us.

Enlightenment is gained not only in attaining knowledge and wisdom, but also in a willingness to let go of all we think we know so that higher wisdom can lead us. So how do you let go of the natural tendency to want to control issues based on previous experience? It requires faith. Faith in oneself, faith in one’s higher power and the ability to access higher levels of awareness.

Meditation, journaling, mindfulness are all tools that help us empty our cups. One of the greatest spiritual lessons is that fulfillment can only be found in empty places. If you are already full with what you think you want or need; you leave no room for richer blessings to find their way to you.