Zen Wisdom – The Monk and an Empty Boat

Uncover the secrets of Zen practices in managing anger, a unique approach that fosters serenity and inner peace.

The Story of a Monk and an Empty Boat

Once upon a time, a monk lived in a quiet monastery nestled among the mountains. He was known for his dedication to meditation. One day, he decided to seek solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of the monastery. He chose a serene lake nearby, a place seldom visited by the locals.

The Journey to the Lake

The monk embarked on his journey to the lake, carrying nothing but his unwavering determination to meditate. The lake was calm and peaceful, mirroring the tranquility he sought. He rowed a boat to the lake’s center, hoping to be far away from everyone. He anchored the boat amidst the vast expanse of water. There, he closed his eyes and began his meditation.

The Disturbance

Hours passed in undisturbed silence as the monk delved deep into his meditation. Suddenly, he felt a jolt. It was another boat colliding with his. A wave of disturbance rippled through him. Despite this, he chose to keep his eyes closed, preserving his state of meditation.

A few minutes later, the other boat bumped into him again. He could feel his anger rising, but he managed to keep it in check. With his eyes still closed, the monk remained silent, striving to regain his meditative depth.

After a while, the bumping continued. The monk’s patience began to wane. He found it increasingly difficult to stay calm. His anger toward the other boatman escalated, and he was on the verge of lashing out. He couldn’t comprehend why the other boatman would persistently disrupt his meditation.

The Realization

Unable to contain his anger any longer, the monk opened his eyes, ready to confront the intruder. But to his surprise, he found an empty boat drifting aimlessly. It must have become untethered and floated into the lake.

At that moment, the monk had an epiphany. He realized the anger was within him all along, merely provoked by an external stimulus. The other boat was only an empty vessel, just like the provocations in life.

He realized that his irritation was of his own making. There was no one else to blame for it. It was just an empty, untethered boat, simply doing what drifting boats do.

The Lesson

From that day forward, whenever someone tried to provoke or irritate him, he would remind himself, “The other person is merely an empty boat. The anger is within me.”

This story serves as a potent reminder for us. When we meditate, we often find ourselves in the middle of a metaphorical lake. The disturbances we encounter are like the empty boat devoid of intent or malice. They merely exist, and our reactions are entirely within our control.

The Power of Meditation

Much like the monk’s journey to the lake, meditation is a journey within ourselves. It helps us understand our emotions better, allowing us to control our reactions to external stimuli. When we meditate, we learn to let go of our anger and frustrations, just like the monk did when he realized the boat was empty.

According to a Healthline article, meditation is a powerful tool that can help us manage stress, enhance our mood, promote healthy sleep patterns, and even boost cognitive skills.

Filling Your Cup with Goodness

As beautifully explained in this article, life is unpredictable and full of unexpected bumps. When life rattles you, whatever is in your cup will spill out. Is it joy, gratitude, peace, and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words, and negativity?


The story of the monk, the lake, and the empty boat is a timeless tale that teaches us about self-realization and control over our emotions. 

Remember, the next time you get angry or frustrated, think of the monk and the empty boat. The power to control your reactions lies within you.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

A dynamic personality with years of experience in the software industry and professional mainstream broadcasting. Now, he is dedicated to sharing his experiences about life, faith, and relationships to help others enable themselves to live a better life.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.