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The Empty Boat

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  • gregory_candy
    I ve love this one, but it seems so alien to others when I try to communicate the lesson. How well do you each interpret and/or practice this lesson in the
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 14, 2008
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      I've love this one, but it seems so alien to others when I try to communicate the lesson.
      How well do you each interpret and/or practice this lesson in the 21st century? And those
      you deal with in this wide world?

      Greg C. (still alive and well in New England)

      The Empty Boat (excerpt from Merton's "The Way of Chaung Tzu")

      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 angry.
      But if he sees a man in a boat,
      He will shout at him to steer clear,
      If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
      And yet again, and begin cursing.
      And all because there is somebody in the boat.
      Yet if the boat were empty,
      He not be shouting and be angry.

      If you can empty your own boat,
      Crossing the river of the world,
      No one will oppose you,
      No one will seek to harm you.
    • lisa
      ... communicate the lesson. ... 21st century? And those ... To me it says that the man crossing the river s perceptions shift depending on how threatening he
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 15, 2008
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        --- In TaoTalk@yahoogroups.com, "gregory_candy" <gcandy@...> wrote:
        >
        > I've love this one, but it seems so alien to others when I try to
        communicate the lesson.
        > How well do you each interpret and/or practice this lesson in the
        21st century? And those
        > you deal with in this wide world?
        >
        > Greg C. (still alive and well in New England)
        >
        > The Empty Boat (excerpt from Merton's "The Way of Chaung Tzu")
        >
        > 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 angry.
        > But if he sees a man in a boat,
        > He will shout at him to steer clear,
        > If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
        > And yet again, and begin cursing.
        > And all because there is somebody in the boat.
        > Yet if the boat were empty,
        > He not be shouting and be angry.
        >
        > If you can empty your own boat,
        > Crossing the river of the world,
        > No one will oppose you,
        > No one will seek to harm you.
        >

        To me it says that the man crossing the river's perceptions shift
        depending on how threatening he sees the danger. If the boat is empty
        it is light and floating there by chance, with no ill-intent, since
        there is nobody navigating the inanimate vessel. (Of course, if the
        boat were empty but heavy with explosives and on fire, it might be a
        different story.)

        If the man crossing the river sees a man in a boat heading toward him,
        he is uncertain the man's intent, if any, and so shouts to at least
        let him know he's there. If the boat keeps coming towards him, he
        shouts again and again, to let the other man know that their boats
        colliding is a dangerous thing, so he'd better take action to avoid
        it. If the boat yet continues towards him, he must conclude that the
        man wants to ram him and so begins to curse.

        I don't know how to interpret the "bad-tempered man" in this scenario.
        Wouldn't anyone in this circumstance follow similar lines of action?
        Would a "good-tempered man" let the boat ram him? Would he bail out
        of his boat to avoid getting rammed rather than take some action (i.e.
        yelling, shouting, possibly cursing) toward the other boat or boater?

        Trying to extract judgmentalism from interactions with others is a
        good way to travel as one wanders on the way. It may be easier to do
        from your end, but it can be done when receiving from others. Even if
        you sense the other person has an attitude, you must understand that
        it isn't about you as much as it is about the other person. Not
        feeding into that perception and continuing to be who you are often is
        a good way of neutralizing the attitude, at least for the immediate
        interaction.

        Regardless of who you are, you will run into people who are going to
        try and ram your boat. Instead of yelling, shouting, and cursing at
        the other person, use your navigational skills and just get out of
        their way.

        rgds,
        lisa

        P.S. Now it's your turn! How do you interpret and practice it?
      • bradford hatcher
        I like this one. But I think when I pass it along I m just going to leave off the last four lines. It just seems richer that way.
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 15, 2008
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          I like this one.
          But I think when I pass it along I'm just going to leave off
          the last four lines. It just seems richer that way.



          > 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 angry.
          > But if he sees a man in a boat,
          > He will shout at him to steer clear,
          > If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
          > And yet again, and begin cursing.
          > And all because there is somebody in the boat.
          > Yet if the boat were empty,
          > He not be shouting and be angry.
          >
          > If you can empty your own boat,
          > Crossing the river of the world,
          > No one will oppose you,
          > No one will seek to harm you.

           
        • Rick Matz
          One of my favorites. Best Regards, Rick http://CookDingsKitchen.blogspot.com ... communicate the lesson. ... 21st century? And those
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 15, 2008
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            One of my favorites.

            Best Regards,

            Rick
            http://CookDingsKitchen.blogspot.com

            --- In TaoTalk@yahoogroups.com, "gregory_candy" <gcandy@...> wrote:
            >
            > I've love this one, but it seems so alien to others when I try to
            communicate the lesson.
            > How well do you each interpret and/or practice this lesson in the
            21st century? And those
            > you deal with in this wide world?
            >
            > Greg C. (still alive and well in New England)
            >
            > The Empty Boat (excerpt from Merton's "The Way of Chaung Tzu")
            >
            > 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 angry.
            > But if he sees a man in a boat,
            > He will shout at him to steer clear,
            > If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
            > And yet again, and begin cursing.
            > And all because there is somebody in the boat.
            > Yet if the boat were empty,
            > He not be shouting and be angry.
            >
            > If you can empty your own boat,
            > Crossing the river of the world,
            > No one will oppose you,
            > No one will seek to harm you.
            >
          • gregory_candy
            Brad - Funny you said that. I had cut the last four lines out after typing the other night, wavered, and put them back. I agree it makes a nice crisp package
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 15, 2008
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              Brad - Funny you said that. I had cut the last four lines out after typing the other night,
              wavered, and put them back. I agree it makes a nice crisp package trimmed: but I was
              trying not to try to inject much more of my own editing and stay somewhat true to
              Merton's interpretation.

              Lisa, you deftly turned the question back on me and asked how I apply/interpret it. I find
              I apply this story a lot in my life analogous to Zhaung Zi's story during driving. If someone
              does something on the road like cut me off (without collision) I try not to ascribe intent
              and be aggravated. Whether there was an innocent explanation or the person was
              irresponsible, drunk, or malicious the outcome was the same. To allow myself to "take it
              personally" and get upset is to me a waste of energy. Then the analogies to ones spirit to
              turbid or settled water come to mind. If I find I allowed my spirit to become agitated
              (turbid water), I'm somewhat disappointed in myself and have to settle myself. If I find I
              was able to remain somewhat serene (clear, settled water) through and after a tense or
              surprise situation, I consider it a good checkpoint.

              I had this story from Merton on my mind this weekend after two old college friends
              (former roommates of mine) had a recent falling out after 30 years because each ascribed
              "intent" and "insult" to situations over time with little or no substantiation I could see. And
              neither could just let little things slide. Misunderstandings accumulated to the breaking
              point. A sad waste of a 30 year friendship IMHO.

              Greg
            • rickmatz@yahoo.com
              No offense intended, none taken. Best Regards, Rick http://CookDingsKitchen.blogspot.com
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 16, 2008
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                No offense intended, none taken.

                Best Regards,

                Rick
                http://CookDingsKitchen.blogspot.com


                gregory_candy wrote:
                > Brad - Funny you said that. I had cut the last four lines out after typing the other night,
                > wavered, and put them back. I agree it makes a nice crisp package trimmed: but I was
                > trying not to try to inject much more of my own editing and stay somewhat true to
                > Merton's interpretation.
                > Lisa, you deftly turned the question back on me and asked how I apply/interpret it. I find
                > I apply this story a lot in my life analogous to Zhaung Zi's story during driving. If someone
                > does something on the road like cut me off (without collision) I try not to ascribe intent
                > and be aggravated. Whether there was an innocent explanation or the person was
                > irresponsible, drunk, or malicious the outcome was the same. To allow myself to "take it
                > personally" and get upset is to me a waste of energy. Then the analogies to ones spirit to
                > turbid or settled water come to mind. If I find I allowed my spirit to become agitated
                > (turbid water), I'm somewhat disappointed in myself and have to settle myself. If I find I
                > was able to remain somewhat serene (clear, settled water) through and after a tense or
                > surprise situation, I consider it a good checkpoint.
                > I had this story from Merton on my mind this weekend after two old college friends
                > (former roommates of mine) had a recent falling out after 30 years because each ascribed
                > "intent" and "insult" to situations over time with little or no substantiation I could see. And
                > neither could just let little things slide. Misunderstandings accumulated to the breaking
                > point. A sad waste of a 30 year friendship IMHO.
                > Greg
                > ------------------------------------
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              • gregory_candy
                Now THAT is one concise lesson, Rick. :-) Tip-of-the-hat to you.
                Message 7 of 7 , Jun 16, 2008
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                  Now THAT is one concise lesson, Rick. :-) Tip-of-the-hat to you.

                  --- In TaoTalk@yahoogroups.com, "rickmatz@..." <rickmatz@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > No offense intended, none taken.
                  >
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