In a quiet village, an esteemed scholar renowned for his vast knowledge of scriptures sought the guidance of an old monk. Yearning to discover the profound truths of life, the scholar approached the monk with great anticipation.
Curious about the scholar's identity, the old monk asked, "Who are you?" The scholar, with a sense of importance, revealed his reputation and extensive knowledge in various scriptures. He expressed his desire to uncover the ultimate truth and sought the monk's guidance.
The old monk, perceiving the scholar's preconceptions, suggested, "Bring in writing what you know, for what you already know needs no education. Our discussions will be fruitful only if we delve into matters that are unfamiliar to you."
Eager to impress, the scholar spent three years meticulously documenting his vast knowledge. Returning to the old monk with a bag filled with thousands of pages, the scholar presented his work.
Observing the extensive pile of papers, the monk remarked, "At this age, I won't be able to read so much. Make it more concise." The scholar, realizing the need for brevity, spent an additional three months crafting an abstract of his knowledge.
Upon his return, the monk, still dissatisfied, urged the scholar to condense it further. After seven days of contemplation, the scholar returned with a few pages containing the essence of his wisdom.
The old monk, recognizing the scholar's struggle to comprehend the essence, advised him once more to simplify. Finally understanding the monk's message, the scholar retreated to another room and returned with a blank paper.
Seeing the empty canvas, the old monk smiled and said, "This blank paper signifies emptiness, a state of complete nothingness. Now, you are qualified to learn, for you have grasped the fundamental truth that you know nothing."
Learning: "The first step to learning is to acknowledge that you know nothing. This act requires great courage, as it demands the humility to admit, 'I do not know.'"