Would we get angry if an empty boat collided with our boat? No. But we would, if the boat had somebody in it. Why?
It is ordinary to try to be extraordinary
Chuang Tzu is a rare flowering, because to become nobody is the most difficult, almost impossible, most extraordinary thing in the world.
The ordinary mind wants to be extraordinary, that is part of ordinariness; the ordinary mind desires to be somebody in particular, that is part of ordinariness. You may become an Alexander, but you remain ordinary – then who is the extraordinary one? The extra ordinariness starts only when you don’t want extra ordinariness. Then the journey has started, and then a new seed has sprouted.
This is what Chuang Tzu means when he says: A perfect man is like an empty boat. Many things are implied in it. First, an empty boat is not going anywhere because there is nobody to direct it, nobody to manipulate it, nobody to drive it somewhere. An empty boat is just there, it is not going anywhere. Even if it is moving it is not going anywhere.
When the mind is not there, life will remain a movement, but it will not be directed. You will move, you will change, you will be a river-like flow, but not going anywhere, with no goal in view. A perfect man lives without any purpose; a perfect man moves but without any motive. If you ask a perfect man, “What are you doing?” he will say, “I don’t know, but this is what is happening”.
Mind can live in the future, but cannot live in the present. In the present you can simply hope and desire. And that’s how you create misery. If you start living this very moment, here and now, misery disappears.
Even then sometimes people will be angry – they are even angry with a Buddha. Because there are foolish people who, if their boat collides with an empty boat, they will not look to see whether someone is in it or not. They will start shouting; they will get so messed up within themselves that they will not be able to see whether someone is in it or not.
But even then the empty boat can enjoy it because then the anger never hits you; you are not there, so whom can it hit?
This symbol of the empty boat is really beautiful. People are angry because you are too much there, because you are too heavy there – so solid they cannot pass. And life is intertwined with everybody. If you are too much, then everywhere there will be collision, anger, depression, aggression, violence – the conflict continues.
Whenever you feel that someone is angry or someone has collided with you, you always think that he is responsible. This is how ignorance concludes, interprets. Ignorance always says, “The other is responsible.” Wisdom always says, “If somebody is responsible, then I am responsible, and the only way not to collide is not to be.”
“I am responsible” doesn’t mean, “I am doing something that is why they are angry.” That is not the question. You may not be doing anything, but just your being there is enough for people to get angry. The question is not whether you are doing good or bad. The question is that you are there.
Being is the problem
This is the difference between Tao and other religions. Other religions say: Be good, behave in such a way that no one gets angry with you. Tao says: Don’t be.
It is not a question of whether you behave or misbehave. This is not the question. Even a good man, even a very saintly man, creates anger, because he is there. Sometimes a good man creates more anger than a bad man, because a good man means a very subtle egoist. A bad man feels guilty – his boat may be filled, but he feels guilty. He is not really so spread out on the boat, his guilt helps him to shrink. A good man feels himself to be so good that he fills the boat completely, overfills it.
Courtesy: Complete Well-Being