It was a pleasant December morning. I had planned a visit to a school to give the students a couple of quick lectures on values and to conduct a nama kirtan for the middle school and high school students. In course of my discussions with the middle school children, I narrated the classic tale of the professor and the student --
“A student who was widely read—and hence considered himself to be highly knowledgeable—approached a wise teacher to gain further “understanding” And deepen his “knowledge.” The teacher, in one glance, saw through the mask of the student and discerned that this young man was full of false pride for his learning. He invited the student and placed a cup before him. He started talking to him and, while speaking, poured tea into the cup. Eventually, the cup became full; yet, the teacher continued talking and pouring the tea. Seeing this, the student exclaimed, “Sir, the cup is full. You cannot pour any more tea into it!” To this, the teacher replied, “Right. I cannot add anything more to you too.”
I purposefully left it unclear to see if the children could come up with something interesting. I asked the children what they learnt from this story. Hearing their answers was a humbling experience indeed.
One student said: “Since the student was watching the cup, he was not listening to the teacher properly. We should not get distracted in anything we do!”
I said, “That was indeed something, wasn’t it? Wow!”
Then another spoke, “Just like a cup can hold only a little tea, we should realize that EVERYTHING is limited!”
To this, I just exclaimed “Fantastic!”
One more student had to say this: “He was very proud, so he was not listening to the teacher”
I could not say anything but “Wow!”
“We cannot learn anything if we are proud of our learning,” said another pupil. “If we think that we already know everything, we cannot learn any further”
I repeated the same story to another bunch of students in a different learning environment. There were students of different age groups here. I was baffled by the responses there too!
"We need to share what we have, like the Guru shares the knowledge!" came up a 12 year old!
"Come with an empty notebook to school, only then you can write new things. If things are already written on it, we will end up scribbling" said a 10 year old.
"If you think you know everything, then you will fail in the exam, like the seeker did." said a 10 year old.
"The more you learn, remember that you still need to know so much more and hence don't know anything. " explained a 14 year old!
"A Jnani is the one who knows that he doesn't know anything at all", was the response from a 13 year old.
What humbled me was a 15 year old's response, "We are always taught something in life by everyone, and we should learn from them new things. Try to find good things in everyone, and learn that."
A great learning at the feet of these children, indeed!
- A humbled Teacher