Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Empty Your Boat

In many of these Dharma blogs, we have touched upon some repeating themes, such as the concepts of being empty of self (12/3, 12/4, & 12/11), releasing grasping (11/16/ & 11/17), and making space for things to simply be as they are (12/7). These concepts come together beautifully in this parable from the Chinese mystic, Chuang Tzu, as interpreted by Osho:
If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout to him to steer clear.
And if the shout is not heard he will shout
Again, and yet again, and begin cursing -
And all because there is somebody in that boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and he would not be angry.
In your travels today, and particularly as you jostle with the other "boats" on the streets and freeways, try making this adjustment: see all the other cars as empty boats just going with the flow of the river. In doing so, you might be able to catch a moment of release from the grasping of a sense of I, me, and mine, and especially from the cognitive distortion that the road somehow belongs to us.

From here, it's not too difficult to make another shift: see your own boat as empty. When you release the sense of being someone, and just be, you can feel as though you, too, are going with the flow of the current, without as much urgency, anxiety, and stress. A peaceful sense of spaciousness opens up in your heart, and you can taste a moment of freedom from your habitual reactions to things. Your boat will still reach its destination, but once again, the journey will be more interesting, and much easier.


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