The Boat Story


The Boat Story

There was a man in a small canoe out in the bay. The man was quite proud of his boat, which he had just refinished. The day began clear and bright, but rather unexpectedly, clouds quickly gathered and a dense fog rolled in. The man brought the canoe about and headed for shore. As he headed home, he could just make out the profile of another boat in the fog obscured distance. He kept that outline of a boat within his view and noticed that it was moving in his direction. This observation caused him some concern and when the boat was within earshot, he called out “Keep your distance so that we have plenty of room to pass.” However, the other boat continued to move closer and was now on a direct collision course. He called out again louder, “Keep your distance!” He was quite skilled with the oar, knew a number of strokes, and could maneuver the canoe quite adroitly. He changed course and paddled away from the other boat. However, as he changed direction, he was upset to see the other boat also change direction and again move directly toward him. The man could also see that it was a significantly larger than his canoe. He called out again “Watch out. Don’t hit my boat, it has been repainted.” None of this shouting had any effect. The larger boat continued to bear down on him. “Stay out of my way!” But it was of no use. Whenever he tried to change direction, the maneuver was matched by the on-coming boat. The boat dead reckoned at him until there was a loud crack from the crash. The man saw his new boat damaged by this senseless behavior of the other boat. His rage knew no bounds. “You idiot, look what you did to my boat!” He continued his rampage, screaming and getting quite worked up. Suddenly, the fog lifted. The man could see the larger boat clearly now. There was no one in it. The boat was a long abandoned shell.


Additional Stories

This is a link to a Collection of Zen Stories     (

Here are a couple of points to chew on:

Where did the man’s anger come from?

Where did it go?

Where is the responsibility for the accident?



2 Responses to The Boat Story

  1. conformity - just accept it :) says:

    this sounds familiar to the story the man in who the tao flows which go’s like;

    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…. Who can free himself from achievement, and from fame, descend and be lost amid the masses of men? He will flow like Tao, unseen, he will go about like Life itself with no name and no home. Simple is he, without distinction. To all appearances he is a fool. His steps leave no trace. He has no power. He achieves nothing, has no reputation. Since he judges no one, no one judges him. Such is the perfect man: His boat is empty.

    Where did the man’s anger come from?

    the mans anger came from thoughts probably pertaining to :a sense of loss of status, being denied of keeping his own “stuff” his, that a mindless action should cost him something

    Where did it go?
    No personal target no anger, how could a inanimate object cause a loss or diminishment to ones own character- unless one believes it to be so eg; stories around addiction having total control over people

    Where is the responsibility for the accident?

    society breeding a race of pretentious presiousness into individuals – making people believe they have the right to get to where they want to go without interuption or being impinged upon.

    Are there comparable situations at work or at home?

    in every decision we make where we personalise and objectify people because of a divine belief of righchousness

  2. Anger Management

    Anger Management

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