In the Mahabharata, the archery guru of all of the Pandava and Kauravas, Drona, gives a sieve to all of his students before the first day of class, and tells them that they will only be admitted to class once they can bring the sieve to class filled with water from the river. Drona privately told his son how to seal the holes of the sieve with clay before filling it with water, and so he is the only student who appeared for the first day of class, and Drona shared with him the most powerful and destructive weapon (a mantra) with only his son. Before the second day of class, Arjuna figured out the trick with the clay, and so could attend the lesson and begin his schooling with the master archery teacher.
In that story, the symbol of the leaking vessel might be interpreted as a human quality that prevents us from containing the teaching—whether of keeping the revealed secrets to one's self, or keeping the intimate inner spiritual relationship with the guru concealed.
This tale, however, turns the tale of Drona's sieve on its head! Now the *leaking* itself becomes not a failure of the student, but a gift that the student unknowingly gives to the world around him. What a delightful teaching of the value of the process and the myriad ramifications that ensue because of our persistence and self-discipline, instead of the trick—a special knowledge that solves the puzzle—which brings about the desired results! Knowing Drona's tale, I thought I knew this one, so like a good Zen teacher, I felt surprised and side-swiped by this story. Brilliant!