Be the empty boat – philosophising

Rather than finding one website that captures ALL my attention, I keep finding great articles that further entrench my previous interweb finding which is, let go of the internet!  Ironic, I know.

I find the best material via – my twitter account, other people that I have respect for read articles and then post the same if they are worthy of any attention.  It’s great, it’s like a list of good things to read or a community noticeboard for everything that sparks my interest in the world.  But this isn’t about shameless self promotion.

I discovered a great ‘how to’ article about taking your life back from the evil digital forces, it’s here and it was first posted on the Harvard Business Review blog.  Easy read and sits perfectly in that meditative tradition of training your attention, focusing your mind and noticing your every move.  No more time wasters.

So once I remove myself from the internet, amongst other things, I meditate to remind me to keep life simple.  Take each moment as it comes and notice my reactions as they happen, accept what is.  Eventually, I will understand what sensations arise in my body before I react and I may be able to breath instead of reacting or jumping without any thought.  The lesson I keep finding solace in to help me remember to ‘keep it simple’ is a poem by Chuang Tzu, The Empty Boat.  It’s below – take from it what you will.  If you are as into this poem and it’s ancient teaching as I am there is a whole discourse that you can immerse yourself in to help clarify the message – check out Chapter 1, “The Toast is Burned“.

He who rules men, lives in confusion;
he who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.
Tao therefore desired
neither to influence others
nor be influenced by them.
The way to get clear of confusion and free of sorrow
is to live with tao in the land of the void.
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.
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.
The straight tree is the first to be cut down,
the spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.
If you wish to improve your wisdom
and shame the ignorant,
to cultivate your character and outshine others,
a light will shine around you
as if you had swallowed the sun and the moon –
and you will not avoid calamity.
A wise man has said:
”he who is content with himself
has done worthless work.
Achievement is the beginning of failure,
fame is the beginning of disgrace.”
Who can free himself of achievement and fame
then descend and be lost
amid the masses of men?
He will flow like tao, unseen,
he will go about like life itself
with no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
He achieves nothing, he has no reputation.
Since he judges no one,
no one judges him.
Such is the perfect man –
his boat is empty.

Go forth and click and consciously breath.

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2 Responses to Be the empty boat – philosophising

  1. EmilyKate says:

    so true!

  2. EmilyKate says:

    although… do we want to BE the empty boat, or the man in one boat, who looks at another boat, manned or not, AS THOUGH it were empty?

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