puzzle pieces with following words next to them: learn unlearn relearn


We live in a world where most people think they are always right.

People forget that everyone looks at the world through their personal lens.

This lens, built over the years, filters reality in a subjective way which varies from person to person and yet everybody is convinced that their personal interpretation of the world is right. 

That’s why it's so easy to argue with other people.

We are not open up to other people’s points of view.

We are full of prejudices and therefore having a proper conversation is becoming way too difficult.

It’s not surprising, considering that each interlocutor shields behind their convictions and prejudices.

This is WHY we must LEARN to UNLEARN, to get rid of our prejudices and open up to new perspectives. 

The following Zen story illustrates this very clearly.


overflowing cup of tea

Once upon a time in a remote village lived a Zen master. 

He was known as the wisest and most enlightened person in the region.

People traveled miles in order to learn from his wisdom.

One day a young professor set out to visit the wise man because he was looking for the secret of Zen wisdom.

The young man introduced himself to the master as the greatest scholar in the region and said he had learned from the most distinguished teachers and therefore was familiar with all subjects.

The master welcomed the young professor into his cozy dwelling and offered him a cup of tea.

The old man started pouring the tea into a cup.

The cup was soon full, yet the Zen master kept pouring the tea until it spilled over.

The tea spread over the table and onto the floor too.

The professor got annoyed, he couldn't stand what he was seeing any longer, and impatiently addressed the master: “Why are you keeping pouring the tea when you have already spilled it all over the floor? Stop it!”.

The master calmly replied: “You see, young man, you are like this cup. You want to learn the Zen wisdom while your mind is full of preconceptions and prejudices.

In the same way, as the cup cannot be filled up anymore, your mind cannot take in the secret of Zen till you get rid of your biases.

Only when your mind is empty, it is ready for anything and open to everything.

In the beginner’s mind, there are endless possibilities, in the expert’s one there’s no room left”.


One of the biggest challenges for human beings is not to learn but to unlearn.

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn”. - Gloria Steinem

We must unlearn by letting go of all the conditioning we have built throughout our life.

We must be aware that we always look at things through our own lens.

The way we perceive things is personal, not right or wrong but we fail to realize it.

Only by accepting other people’s points of view can we explore different perspectives and embrace new opportunities that allow us to grow and evolve into better human beings.

Only when we are ready to listen to people with an open heart can we communicate in a genuine way.

A genuine conversation is based on mutual contribution and both sides benefit from it if they are ready to let go of something.

Emptying your cup doesn’t mean losing; on the contrary, it means having the opportunity to be open to NEW possibilities that may turn up to be a game-changer in your life.

If you truly want to learn and have new valuable experiences in life you have to be open-minded and be prepared to put aside what you have always considered being true.

Instead of looking through the lens of your own conditioning, you should approach everything with a beginner’s mind as the Zen master advised the young professor to do.

How can you empty your cup and change your perspective?

When you expose yourself to new contexts and meet new people, questions start arising within you.

Questions such as: “What if what I have always thought to be right is not?”

“Is my God more real than the God other people believe in?”

“Is my traditional cuisine better than all the others in the world?”

Do you get my point?

What we think about the world we live in is forged and conditioned by the environment we grow up in, and the information we access.

That’s why we have prejudices against others because they don’t think and act the same way we do.

But everyone is different and everyone has a personal story.

The sooner you accept that what you know is not necessarily true and that you can always learn something new and valuable, the sooner you will be ready to embrace new opportunities in life.

Empty your cup, and fill it up with new possibilities.

More resources for YOU:

Christian Caliendo
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