Parable of the Spilled Cup

This is a parable about a young prince and the advice he received from his grandfather, a wise and beloved king.

At a large social gathering, a young prince was mingling amongst the subjects of the kingdom holding his cup of tea when someone accidentally bumped into him causing the tea to spilled all over the young prince. The young prince reacted with a burst of anger as the tea was hot and he also got it all over his royal attire. His grandfather, the king, quickly intervened, and then pulled the young prince aside.

“My grandson, you have much to learn yet, about being a man among men. Let me ask you a simple question. Why did you spill the tea?”

The prince, who had great respect for his grandfather, looked puzzled and with hesitation in his voice answered, “because someone carelessly bumped into me.”

“The grandfather smiled, put his arm around the young prince and said, “That is where you err. You spilled the tea because there was tea in the cup. If it had been coffee in your cup, you would have spilled coffee. Whatever you put in your cup is what will spill out when you are bumped into. Make no mistake about it, in life you will be bumped into often.

“You must know this truth, if you aren’t careful about what goes into your cup others will come by and fill it for you. You need to surround yourself with people who will regularly refill your cup with all those characteristics of love, faith, faithfulness that will make men and women truly the leaders of a healthy society. If there are not enough men and women with their cups filled with good stuff, society will breakdown and chaos and evil will take over.

“Everyone is given a cup upon birth, everyone has people initially filling that cup, but at some point you become old enough to recognize what your cup is being filled with and to begin filling it yourself. Unfortunately, not everyone gets their cup filled with good stuff early on, but even so, they have the opportunity and responsibility to recognize what their cup is filled with and if it isn’t filled with good stuff to empty it and fill it with good stuff.

“I hope you will choose to not only fill it with good stuff, which is all those traits we have tried to fill it with – patience, kindness, humility, hope, perseverance, mercy, meekness, courage, and so on – but you also need to be wary of all those who are trying to fill it with just the opposite – fear, anger, envy, jealousy, arrogance, pride and so on. Tonight, it became apparent that someone has been filling your cup with poison – anger, arrogance, fear.

“Learn this lesson, life consists of large social gatherings held daily, so you will always be carrying your cup with you. Understand that it will be filled daily and even throughout the day because throughout the day you will consume what is in the cup. Become aware when it has become filled with poison so you can dump it out safely and fill it with good stuff. The good stuff is the antidote for the poison, but you need to consume three times as much good stuff to counter act the bad stuff.

“Look to surround yourself with people who will always help you fill it with good stuff and drink the good stuff often. Learn to recognize the bitter taste of the bad stuff so you can empty the cup and fill it with good stuff. You will be bumped into frequently spilling your cup. What spills out needs to be the good stuff.

“Oh, one last thing, don’t try to keep the cup from being filled at all because an empty cup is about as dangerous as a cup filled with poison. Never empty your cup without immediately filling it with good stuff.”

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