The Empty Boat – How to Remain Centered When Activated by Anger

The Empty Boat

“If you are on your honeymoon, the moon looks beautiful, miraculous, wonderful. It seems that the whole world is different. And on the same night, just for your neighbor, this miraculous night may not be in existence at all. His child has died – then the same moon is just sad, intolerable. But for you it is enchanting, fascinating; it is maddening.

Why? Is the moon the source or is the moon just a screen and you are projecting yourself?

“When a mood against someone or for someone arises, do not place it on the person in question – or on the object in question.

“Remain centered. Remember that you are the source, so do not move to the other, move to the source. When you feel hate, do not go to the object. Go to the point from where the hate is coming. Go not to the person to whom it is going, but to the center from where it is coming. Move to the center, go within.

Use your hate or love or anger or anything as a journey toward your inner center, to the source.

“Move to the source and remain centered there.

“Someone has insulted you – anger suddenly erupts, you are feverish. Anger is flowing toward the person who has insulted you. Now you will project this whole anger onto him. He has not done anything. If he has insulted you, what has he done? He has just pricked you, he has helped your anger to arise – but the anger is yours. If he goes to Buddha and insults him, he will not be able to create any anger in him. Or if he goes to Jesus, Jesus will give him the other cheek. Or if he goes to Bodhidharma, he will roar with laughter. So it depends.

Someone has given you a chance to be aware of your own anger – thank him immediately and forget him.

“Close your eyes, move within, and now look at the source from where this love or anger is coming. From where? Go within, move within. You will find the source there because the anger is coming from your source.

It is easy to go to the source at the moment you are angry or in love or in hate, because then you are hot.

“It is easy to move in then. The wire is hot and you can trace it in, you can move inward with that hotness. And when you reach a cool point within, you will suddenly realize a different dimension, a different world opening before you. Use anger, use hate, use love to go within.

“One of the greatest of Zen masters, Lin Chi, used to say, ‘While I was young I was very fascinated by boating. I had one small boat, and I would go on the lake alone. For hours together I would remain there.

“‘Once it happened that with closed eyes I was in my boat meditating on the beautiful night. One empty boat came floating downstream and struck my boat. My eyes were closed, so I thought, “Someone is here with his boat, and he has struck my boat.”

‘Anger arose. I opened my eyes and I was just going to say something to that man in anger, then I realized that the boat was empty.

“‘Then there was no way to move. To whom could I express the anger? The boat was empty. It was just floating downstream, and it had come and struck my boat. So there was nothing to do. There was no possibility to project the anger on an empty boat.’

“So Lin Chi said, ‘I closed my eyes. The anger was there, but finding no way out, I closed my eyes and just floated backward with the anger. And that empty boat became my realization. I came to a point within myself in that silent night. That empty boat was my master.

‘And now if someone comes and insults me, I laugh and I say, “This boat is also empty.” I close my eyes and I go within.’”


Abridged from: Osho, The Book of Secrets, Talk #15, Seeing the Past as a Dream

This article was originally published in The Times of India and is published in Medium

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