Empty your boat before cruising the world

empty boat - chuang tze

What is the difference between an empty boat and a boat with someone on it colliding with yours head on?

This is what Chuang Tzu says:

“When you cross a river and an empty boat comes colliding with your boat head-on, even if you’re a hot-tempered person, you’re unlikely to be very angry.

But if you see a man in the boat, you will shout at him to steer clear.  If the shout is not heard, you will shout again, and yet again.  If you’re still not heard, you’ll start cursing.

You are not angry and you are angry, all because there is no one in the boat in the first instance and someone in the boat in the second.

So if you could empty your own boat before cruising water of the world, no one will seek you harm.”



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    1. I referred to Thomas Merton’s translation when the quote was made, but modified it somehow with the original Chinese text in mind. Thomas Merton’s The Way of Chuang Tzu is a book worth looking into.

  1. Thank you. This message is so simple and yet incredibly powerful. The implications are endless… Thank you for spreading peace.

  2. I am newly exploring Taoism and I thank you for these posts. This one in particular I understand intuitively. Chuang Tzu’s powerful message comes through without requiring lengthy explanation.

  3. Dear Soon,
    Dear dear Soon, the world is a better place because of you. Your understanding displayed here and elsewhere is remarkably powerful. Bless you! Hopefully this blessing will enable you to lead the Nations.
    But then such as you do already, that is in as much as beneficence rules the peace.

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