Online English Listening Lessons: The Tea Cup

Listening level: 5
Audio file: 1:59 min
Story length: 290 words


The Tea Cup

Long ago, there was a great teacher. He was famous in all the nearby villages for his wise instructions and gentle teaching methods.

Many people came to visit him. They wanted to learn. They were seeking answers to important questions.

The great teacher was also kind and generous. He talked to almost everyone who visited his home.

One late afternoon on a cool fall day, a stranger came to the teacher’s house. He was a rich and powerful man. He wore expensive clothes made from the finest material. He told the monk that he wanted to be wise. He wanted to learn. He wanted the teacher to open his mind.

The man did not speak like a student in search of knowledge. His words and tone sounded like a person who enjoyed commanding other people.

The great teacher welcomed the man into his home. He suggested they drink tea together. The two men sat on the floor. A few minutes later, a young monk brought in a pot of warm green tea and two small cups.

The teacher picked up the pot and poured tea into the man’s cup. He poured and poured and poured some more. He didn’t stop. Eventually, the tea flowed out of the cup and onto the table. Some of the tea landed on the man’s fancy clothes.

The man was surprised and angered by the teacher’s unusual behavior. He asked, “What are you doing? Stop pouring. Can’t you see the cup is full?”

The great teacher stopped pouring. He turned his head, looked at the man and said, “Your mind is like this cup. Nothing new can be added because it is so full of opinions. Come back to me when your mind is empty.”

More Practice

Here’s a gap fill exercise. Download the The Tea Cup printable worksheet (pdf file). Listen to the story and fill in the blanks.

Another story

Ready to learn English with another free online listening lesson? Try this free English lesson about a boy who learns a lesson from trees.

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