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The Empty Cup

The Empty Cup

Most of us are familiar with the phrase or some version of it, “ it depends on how you look at things… either your cup is half empty or half full.”

Other adjoining phrases like, “ you need to keep your cup half full so there's more room to pour more in!’  Or, “if your cup is full to the brim, all it takes is one drop to splash it over the top on to others.”  (This can be negative or positive. Too much and over the top can mean overwhelm, or overflow.).

In any case, the reality is that our minds are the “processors” of everything that goes on in our lives. So as we talk about regularly, taking your thoughts, feelings and emotions captive is crucial to a healthy emotional life with balanced perspectives, expectations, and actions that follow that are healthy.

Joseph Nyugen in his book, “Don't Believe Everything You Think: Why Your Thinking Is The Beginning & End Of Suffering”, gives us some points to consider.  He quotes Bruce Lee in the following,

 “The value in a cup is found in its emptiness.”

“While it may not always be practical or even consistently achievable to have a completely empty mind, thankfully, it is not necessary for peace. A perspective that has helped me better understand a state of “no-mind” is that it is not necessarily a state of no thought but a state of non attachment to the thoughts within our minds. In other words, we may be having thoughts, but we’re not thinking about the thoughts we’re having. We’re just allowing them to come and go without needing to engage with them. (Melancholies and Supines generally think they are ‘obligated’ to give credence to thoughts that they need not to.) Emptying the mind of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that do not belong there is crucial to obtain peace, joy, and contentment.

When we have a “friction-free” experience with thoughts entering and leaving our minds without rumination, that is peace. A metaphor to help crystalize this concept is to imagine as if the neural pathways in your brain are highways and the thoughts in your mind are like cars on it. Traffic happens when any car stops long enough for the car behind it to be forced to stop. No one likes traffic, and it usually creates frustration.

Each time you engage with a “negative” thought and ruminate on it, it is like forcing a car to stop in the middle of the highway so you can talk to it. If you engage with this thought long enough, it will create traffic, and frustration follows. The key is to engage with as few of these “negative” thoughts as possible.

It may not be possible to never engage with these thoughts, but we can shorten the time we spend ruminating on them. A happy highway is one where there is minimal traffic and cars are able to smoothly get on and off. The same is true for our minds.

A peaceful mind is one where thoughts can freely flow in and out without them getting “stuck” by traffic we create through rumination. Many of these thoughts just pop up without our own conscious effort, and that’s okay.

We can’t always control what thoughts come up, but we can always exercise the option to  let them go. This does not suggest going into a state of denial or irresponsibility, but a discerning of what thoughts need or deserve our interactions, which are true, lies, or just clutter.

There is never a car that stays on the highway forever. There is never a thought that stays in our minds forever. Everything in our minds passes if we let it.”  -Nyugen (Adapted)

Our point today is this, if we do not take our thoughts captive, they will likely take us captive and run you ragged as you attempt to have what they present to you solve problems, deal with “what if’s, project negatively, induce fear and insecurity, and even falsely identify you.  Even immobilize you out of fear.

Nyugen’s subtitle says, “Your thinking is the beginning and end of all our suffering.”  If we exercise self-control over our thought lives, we are free to know the Truth of what those thoughts are presenting, and not become victimized by them.

If you struggle with your thought life, learning your temperament propensities can go a long way in helping you with that discernment and self control moving forward. 

Bill Hoffman/@bill_hoffman_ /

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