Empty Boats

“Consider this story, from the Zen tradition:

A man is rowing a boat and sees another person rowing a boat towards him. The boat bumps into his, and he start yelling at the other man, mad that the man bumped into his boat.

Then consider this alternative version:

The same man is rowing a boat and sees an empty boat coming towards him. The boat bumps into his, but he simply steers his boat around it.

In the first version, he gets mad. In the second, he reacts appropriately.

Here’s the thing: the boat is always empty. Even when there’s another person causing the stimulus, that person isn’t trying to do anything to us. They are doing their own thing, motivated by whatever they’re going through, and so we shouldn’t take it so personally.

When we take things personally, we get angry. When we see the external event as an empty rowboat, we react appropriately.

And so, the other person isn’t the problem. It’s us taking things personally. This takes time to learn, in your gut instead of just as an idea, but it makes a ton of difference.”

Leo Babauta, https://zenhabits.net/all-learning/

quietness

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