The Empty Cup (found in the Artist of Life by Bruce Lee, ISBN 0-8048-3263-3) A learned man once went to a Zen master to inquire about Zen. As the Zen master talked, the learned man would frequently interrupt him with remarks like "Oh yes, we have that too", and so forth. Finally the Zen master stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man; however he kept on pouring and the teacup overflowed. "Enough! No more can go into the cup!" the learned man interrupted. "Indeed, I see," answered the Zen master. "If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?"
The Monastery Young men would line up at the gate of the Shaolin Temple each day and wait to be accepted. The morning of the first day there were 10 young men but by lunch they were down to 8. At dark, 4 were left. On the morning of day 2 only 3 were left. At the end of day 2, there were only 2. The next morning the monks opened the gate to find one young man standing there. he was accepted. The moral of the story is patience. The student who demonstrated patience and persistence even in the absence of any perceived reward was accepted because he was truly committed to his goal.
The Black Belt The black belt symbolizes inexperience and the student is issued a white belt on the first day of training. Over the years of training, the belt gets dirty and starts to turn yellow. After more time has passed it starts to turn green and then brown. This change symbolizes the skill and experience level. When the belt appears black it represents a mastery of basic skills but not ones self. As training continues and the belt begins to wear in places it symbolizes the wisdom fundamentally changing the belt itself thereby permanently changing the student. As the student becomes a teacher, the belt begins to return to the original white signifying the completion of the circle of life itself.
The Three Samurai A village was being harassed by a group of bandits so the village leaders sent out a request for someone to protect them. Three highly respected samurai showed up to apply for the position. The first samurai was led up a hill to a gate and told that he would be tested inside. As the samurai walked into the gate he was attacked by two members of the village to test his skill. He quickly defeated both attackers by breaking their arms and giving one a concussion. The second samurai walked into the gate and was immediately attacked by two equally menacing villagers. He disarmed both men and threw them to the ground without harming either. The third samurai walked up to the gate and said, "Come out now and I will spare your life". They walked out and the village leaders hired him. The moral of the story is that the right wisdom and experience can prevent many problems before they occur. Most people are capable of reaction on different levels but few people possess the wisdom and discretion to be proactive in problem solving.