Empty your boat

Chuang Tzu tells about a man crossing a river when an empty skiff slams into his. The man does not become angry, as he would if there was a boatman in the other skiff.

So, says Chuang Tzu, “Empty your own boat as you cross the river of the world.”

In solitude, I can empty my boat. Can I do it when I’m in the company of other people? Maybe: Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people – it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.

Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

4 thoughts on “Empty your boat

  1. When the boat is empty there is no one to argue or get upset with. That’s why the man did not get angry. Recognizing that and removing the “I” as Chuang Tzu suggested help with one’s immersion experience. The solitude Palmer was talking about has to do more with the perspective of the self.

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