One of my favorite Buddhist teachings was given by the late Charlotte Joko Beck in her wonderful book “Everyday Zen”. It goes something like this.
Imagine that you live by a lake, and you have a rowboat. You’ve just repaired and repainted it, and you’re really pleased with the job. There’s a fog on the lake the morning after a stormy night, and you decide to row out and enjoy the quiet, surrounded by nothing but the mist and the water.
So you’re rowing along, and then scraaaape, you run into something, and you realize it is another boat. You know your paint job that you’re so proud of is messed up! You’re ready to give the other boater a piece of your mind when you realize that the other boat is empty. Looking closer, you see that there is a rope dragging from the bow, and you realize that the boat must have broken loose from its mooring during last night’s storm. Continue reading
Suppose we are out on a lake and it’s a bit foggy–not too foggy, but a bit foggy–and we’re rowing along in our little boat having a good time. And then, all of a sudden, coming out of the fog, there’s this other rowboat and it’s heading right at us. And…crash! Well, for a second we’re really angry–what is that fool doing? I just painted my boat! And here he comes–crash!–right into it. And then suddenly we notice that the rowboat is empty. What happens to our anger? Well, the anger collapses…I’ll just have to paint my boat again, that’s all. But if that rowboat that hit ours had another person in it, how would we react? You know what would happen! Now our encounters with life, with other people, with events, are like being bumped by an empty rowboat. But we don’t experience it that way. We experience it as though there are people in that other rowboat and we’re really getting clobbered by them. …
from Everyday Zen: love and work, by Charlotte Joko Beck (March 27, 1917 – June 15, 2011)