Inspired Stories to Awaken Your Heart’s Wisdom

We humans have always been storytellers. Stories helped our ancestors build community all those eons ago, and today they’re still igniting our imaginations, motivating us to realize our full potential. When it comes to the practice of cultivating our heartset—our heart connection—stories can provide a powerful glimpse into the experience of others carving a similar path. We are each characters writing our own stories!

Today, instead of reaching for your phone when you have a few free moments, try reading these stories. Find a quiet place free from distraction and really listen to your heart as you read about these fellow happiness warriors seeking a more fulfilling life.

A Cup of Tea

One day, Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a visit from a university professor. The professor had traveled many miles to seek Nan-in’s insights on the art of Zen. 

Nan-in welcomed his visitor and began to serve him tea. As he poured the steaming tea into the professor’s cup, the liquid quickly filled the vessel, approaching the top as Nan-in continued pouring.

For a few moments, the professor watched the cup fill with tea. But as Nan-in kept pouring, the cup overflowed and liquid spilled onto the table where they sat together. The professor sat quiet, observing, until he could no longer restrain himself.

“It’s full. No more will go in!” he told the Zen master.

Nan-in looked to the cup, and then back to the professor. “Like this cup,” he said simply and calmly, “you are full of opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

The Moon Cannot be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master much like Nan-in, lived in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. It was the simplest kind of life.

One evening, a thief visited the hut, searching for something to steal, only to discover there was nothing. Ever observant, Ryokan spotted the thief and approached him.

“You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the thief, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

Bewildered, the thief took the clothes and slunk away. As he watched him vanish into the night, Ryokan sat naked, shifting his gaze to the moon. 

“Poor fellow, ” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”