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74 A Mindful Way of Dealing with Out of Control People




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This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.

74 A Mindful Way of Dealing with Out of Control People

from Ozzie Gontang

THE EMPTY BOAT
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton, 1965
New Direction Publishing Corporation

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 at him to steer clear.

If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting and not 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....

When I confronted by reckless drivers, speeding skaters or bikers,
I simply avoid them and say to myself,
"Empty boat."

Over the years, those two words have saved me from feeding
anger, aggression and violence-both mine and theirs.


 

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