Monday, April 29, 2013

Contemplative Monday

The following quote is taken from 'Heart Advice, Weekly Quotes From Pema Chodron'.


"There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk.

He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him
that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening.

Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him,
faster and faster. He begins to yell, "Hey, hey, watch out!

For Pete's sake, turn aside!" 
But the boat just comes right at him, faster and faster.

By this time he's standing up in his boat, 
screaming and shaking his fist, 

and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.

This is the classic story of our whole life situation.

There are a lot of empty boats out there. 
We're always screaming and shaking our fists at them.

Instead, we could let them stop our minds. 

Even if they only stop our mind for 1.1 seconds, we can rest in that little gap.

When the story line starts, we can do the tonglen (**) practice
 of exchanging ourselves for others.

In this way everything we meet has the potential to help us cultivate compassion
and reconnect with the spacious, open quality of our mind."

** tonglen.....'The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering---ours and that which is all around us----everywhere we go. It is a method of overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be.' 
(from  by Pema Chodron) 


  1. Great story -- never heard it before. Well, gotta go and scream at some empty boats now . . . .

  2. Wonderful story, Jim. Well, I must say that I've had moments in my life where I've been guilty of yelling and shaking my fist!

  3. This is a new concept to me, a screamer at empty boats. Thanks for sharing and giving me something to practice.

    1. I have caught myself in the centre of this concept a few times Pat. It was like a hit in the head!! I've been practicing this ever since.

  4. This reminds me of the log idea I learned from you. That was most helpful to me, and I frequently remind myself to be a log.

    1. I have used the 'tonglen' method/lesson in the past when I found myself in very difficult 'family' situations and after a few attempts it really did help me to 'experience' other's pain. Glad you use the 'log' method Terry. Hey, if it helps,why not?!

  5. Hi! I love your cover picture. Amazing! And your study of the trees. So simple, so inspiring. Lovely.

    1. Nice to meet you Angelika and thanks for stopping by here.

  6. Beautiful shots and blue skies.

    I love this story as it is true and sad to think that we let empty boats disturb our peace of mind...

    1. Thanks Fiona. It is sad indeed that we do this to ourselves but there are ways to 'get through' these times in life without too much 'damage' and a whole lot of compassion in the end.


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