Empty Boat

Empty Boat
Imagine that you’re lazily floating along a river in your boat. It’s a peaceful day, and you’re leaning back, watching the clouds dance in a blue sky and are lulled into a meditative state by the easy flow of the boat on the water and songs of the birds in the trees on the shore. Then, abruptly, another boat bangs into yours, jarring you out of your reverie. Your immediate assumption is that the person guiding the other boat has intentionally hit yours, and you descend into anger and turn to defend yourself, and possibly retaliate.

Turning, you see that it’s an empty boat that has come unmoored and, quite by accident, run into yours. While you probably wouldn’t be angry at an empty boat, you might well become enraged if someone were at its helm. The point of the story is that the person who cut you off at the grocery store line, the kids who teased you as a child, the driver who aggressively tailgated you yesterday – are all in fact empty, rudderless boats. They were compulsively driven to act as they did by their ego, therefore they did not know what they were doing and had little control over it.

Just as an empty boat that rams into us isn’t targeting us, so too people who act unkindly are driven along by the unconscious force of ego-driven existence. Until we realize this, we will remain prisoners of reacting to actions by others instead of allowing the currents of life and love to flow freely through us. We all have a choice: do we want to spend the rest of our lives reacting to percieved insults coming from empty boats, or do we want to let the peace and love of the present moment be our guiding light?

Credit: This has been composed from multiple sources and the basic idea is from a Tao Story.

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