The Teacher had given a discourse on creative thinking.
Afterwards his disciples approached him and asked him to set them a problem that required them to think creatively.
The sage gave them a sieve and asked them to fill it with water at the sea, nearby.
They were gone for a long time.
Finally he went down to the beach to see what they were doing, and found them seated morosely around the sieve.
They scrambled to their feet when they saw him.
“You’ve set us an impossible task, sir,” said the oldest of the disciples. “It’s just not possible to fill a sieve with water.”
“Are you sure?” asked the Teacher, picking up the sieve. “Sometimes it helps to step back and view the problem from a different angle.”
He waded into the water and threw the sieve far out into the sea. It sank.
“There!” said the Teacher. “It’s full of water now.”