Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

A Bigger Container

--by Charlotte Joko Beck (Jun 22, 2015)

We can talk about “oneness” until the cows come home. But how do we actually separate ourselves from others? How? The pride out of which anger is born is what separates us. And the solution is a practice in which we experience this separating emotion as a definite bodily state. When we do, A Bigger Container is created.

What is created, what grows, is the amount of life I can hold without it upsetting me, dominating me. At first this space is quite restricted, then it’s a bit bigger, and then it’s bigger still. It need never cease to grow. And the enlightened state is that enormous and compassionate space. But as long as we live we find there is a limit to our container’s size and it is at that point that we must practice. And how do we know where this cut-off point is? We are at that point when we feel any degree of upset, of anger. It’s no mystery at all. And the strength of our practice is how big that container gets.

As we do this practice we need to be charitable with ourselves. We need to recognize when we’re unwilling to do it. No one is willing all the time. And it’s not bad when we don’t do it. We always do what we’re ready to do.

The practice of making A Bigger Container is essentially spiritual because it is essentially nothing at all. A Bigger Container isn’t a thing; awareness is not a thing; the witness is not a thing or a person. There is not somebody witnessing. Nevertheless that which can witness my mind and body must be other than my mind and body. If I can observe my mind and body in an angry state, who is this “I” who observes? It shows me that I am other than my anger, bigger than my anger, and this knowledge enables me to build A Bigger Container, to grow. So what must be increased is the ability to observe. What we observe is always secondary. It isn’t important that we are upset; what is important is the ability to observe the upset.

As the ability grows first to observe, and second to experience, two factors simultaneously increase: wisdom, the ability to see life as it is (not the way I want it to be) and compassion, the natural action which comes from seeing life as it is. We can’t have compassion for anyone or anything if our encounter with them is ensnarled in pride and anger; it’s impossible. Compassion grows as we create A Bigger Container.

Charlotte Joko Beck ​was an American Zen teacher and the author of the books Everyday Zen: Love and Work and Nothing Special: Living Zen.

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

Previous Reflections:

On Jun 19, 2015 susan schaller wrote:

 Yes.  Create. A bigger me, a bigger life is created as I practice an other-centered focus instead of a me-centered world. Practicing stillness, patience, compassion, service and we-ness takes work unlearning our conditioning. I started where I could - baby steps - and my life grew.  I grew. I need to daily practice so my practices continue to transform me and my life into all of us and all of life.  One-ing takes time, and it is worth it: peace beyond all understanding.

On Jun 20, 2015 david doane wrote:

Creating a bigger container means allowing awareness to become deeper, broader, and continuous.  I have felt my 'container' enlarge as I have become more aware, more present, and more mindful.  For me, practicing awareness and mindfulness involves being in the present, observing and being attentive to what I am feeling and thinking and to what is happening within me and between me and others.  As I am aware and mindful, I enlarge the container.  My goal is to abide in this state as I go about my daily living, so that I live my life with awareness in charge of myself, in charge of my actions rather than my actions in charge of me, responding with awareness to what is happening rather than reacting.  It is interesting that the author says we know we are at the limit of our container when we feel anger.  I think that is true.  I have come to believe that anger is not a necessary emotion, and when I become angry, as I do, I have hit the limit of my growth and know I have further enlarging of my container to do.

On Jun 23, 2015 paashi wrote:

 Silence, reflection and objective awareness expand the container.  When I get still and allow objective reflection, something expands--- the need to justify myself through the ego lens gives way to simple acceptance of events. The pride, should I say the limited false pride of having a free will begins to come into perspective and self compassion expands the heart to see the beauty of awe and wonder of all things.  The energy field becomes quite visceral at times and the state of separation opens to wholeness of existence. 

On Jun 23, 2015 Sunil,Bangalore wrote:

Where there is I,he is not there and where is he I am not there.Its a narrow passage only for the one out of the two but the container is big.I can do all my daily routine resting the soul always on him. The soul manifestation is now happening steadily while doing an e-welfare platform for the bottom of the pyramid. Experiencing the reclaiming of my human by the welfare of the underserved for my container to be really & progressively large.  But be aware it's a very slippery and consciously cautious path balancing the act to make a bigger container. 

On Jun 23, 2015 Raphaële bw wrote:

It is strange how sometimes i see myself bumping on the edge of my own person; that's where anger arises; it's hard to expand over these limits or make them, soft, agile and transformable. It takes the time of thorough observation to really understand what happens then; where is the pain and where is the pride, an angry pride to deny the pain. Thank you for these beautiful words.

On Jun 23, 2015 Maura Santangelo wrote:

 Such practical explanation of developing awareness and its connection to compassion.  And yes, we can only grow at the limits.  

On Jun 23, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 A bigger container = the awareness to allow oneself to step outside of oneself and observe in a nonjudgemental state. I have felt this most often in relationship to those with whom I have difficulty; for example someone who is hurting and lashing out. I can either get caught up in it or I can take a moment, stop, think and realize their lashing out is most likely coming from hurting. Then I can respond with compassion rather than responding back with any hurt or anger myself. I also remind myself when I become angry in a situation, to do my best to stop and think and then realize in that moment I am the one hurting and to try to let it go. Sometimes easier said than done, but awareness is the key. ;) thanks!

On Jun 23, 2015 Pinky wrote:

 I have felt my container expand when I let go of the anger I felt toward my parents for having controlled my life by putting restrictions on my 'freedoms' and by punishing me for my mistakes in my childhood and adolescent years. Yes, my anger towards my parents actions towards me evaporated the minute I learnt that the pain and suffering that a punishment entails is in fact an opportunity to become wiser, by learning and growing from mine and other's experiences. The process of lettting go is still happening, day by day, month by month and I am so much better off for it and so is my parents( or at least they will be)!

On Jun 23, 2015 Cynthia wrote:

What immediately comes to mind for me is that laughter enlarges the container.  I know this viscerally (heart knowledge, not head knowledge) through two recent experiences.  The first experience was a guided meditation to find the animal spirit for my heart chakra.  Once the animal (a whale) appeared and the facilitator asked me to look into its eye, I saw the tiny reflection of myself there and was struck with uncontrollable laughter at the hilarity of the sight -- me, breath-holding/cheeks bulging/bubble-blowing me, with my long hair swirling around my face like kelp, with my arms and legs madly waving to maintain position in the water column and move yet closer to this giant creature.  What a gift it was to literally be able to see myself in the eye of another -- as I now realize from this article, to become for a moment the observer of myself -- such that I was able to experience self-compassion and self-love in a powerful way.  The second experience was participating in a "laughter circle" with about twenty women at a retreat.  Again, with a gifted facilitator.  To sweep my eyes around the circle and witness the faces of each and every person so bright and beautiful in laughter, including (I knew) my own...  To hear and feel and co-create the laughter energy upwhelming and overflowing was to enlarge the container of the self and of the group.  Reflecting on this now, I see that to "practice" this kind of laughter daily would be very helpful to me on the journey.  Thank you.  Thank you.    

On Jun 23, 2015 Sanjeev wrote:

This passage basically says that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Spiritually, w are an infinite container. Physically, we are limited in time and space. This container keeps on becoming bigger as we we grow outward from physical space to mind space, from mind space to intellect space & intellect space to spiritual space. As we grow spiritually, we develop an ability to see life as it is that helps to become a better person. We end up seeing impurities or vices in physical & mental space. It is like going out of system and observe things from outside to see impurities in system

On Jun 23, 2015 Arthur wrote:

Creating a bigger container means for me being able to let go of who I have come to believe I am. To observe my conditioning and to realize that if I can see it, then I am not that. Then just in that observing it begins to dissolve and I have now created a little door to move into NOTHING which is the limitless space of who I truly am. With grace helping I can now move into a limitless container that has no size, no form, no texture and it is who I truly am, my Beingness. 

On Jun 23, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 When we relate to the world, people and nature, by the separating and isolating egotistic mind, our life container is very small and shallow.Our pleasures are short lived and we go through the cycle of pleasure and pain. When we I realize that this way of living has no deep meaning and purpose, We wake up, we awaken. We realize the futility of chasing the shadow.The challenge is to to stay the course of awakening.

The daily practice of mindfulness meditation has helped me to work on my self by becoming aware of my bodily sensations, ego generated thoughts, feelings and emotions  and to be free from their grip, I experience the expansion of my container. My relationship with myself becomes happy and contented and my connectedness with others gets richer and deeper. I feel more alive, loving and loved, more compassionate and understanding and more happy.

I am grateful to the teachers who have shown this way of living by living this way, by walking their talk.I am also happy to see more people  moving in this direction.

Jagdish P Dave

On Sep 29, 2018 Khan Sahab wrote:

 Thanks for this article very helpful. thanks.

<a href=''>2018 diwali status for whatsapp</a>

On Oct 7, 2018 OtisVan wrote:

 Anything can happen in life, either good or bad. You should be ready and prepare for the worst thing in your life. <a href="">taxi from manchester airport</a>

On Oct 21, 2018 SHARIQ KHATRI wrote:

 Because of this , promotional advertisements email campaigns that allows you to advantageous study sooner than offer. In other words to put in writing more practical space something like this. Betvictor

On Oct 22, 2018 carremoval76 carremoval76 wrote:


The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. 토토사이트

On Oct 22, 2018 SHARIQ KHATRI wrote:

 This approach quite still an excellent live which i for that matter quite really liked perusing. This isn't conclusively daily which i are the option to evaluate an important problem. Matchbook

On Oct 28, 2018 SHARIQ KHATRI wrote:

 This approach is normally how it looks quite best. Every one about health issues demonstrates really are made using many different ways of life proficiency. I propose you the technology rather a lot. niche related blog commenting service

On Oct 29, 2018 carremoval76 carremoval76 wrote:


I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here.

On Nov 2, 2018 SHARIQ KHATRI wrote:

 This approach is normally how it looks quite best. Every one about health issues demonstrates really are made using many different ways of life proficiency. I propose you the technology rather a lot. veterans day images

On Nov 8, 2018 SHARIQ KHATRI wrote:

 I adore your individual post. It truly is good to view anyone reveal with text from the core together with lucidity with this necessary subject matter may very well be without difficulty recognized. Matching Tungsten rings

On Nov 15, 2018 RusselSalinas wrote:

 We may have big body but it cannot make a good change. We have a great mind and we can set the world.
wheelchair cushion

On Nov 17, 2018 carremoval76 carremoval76 wrote:


Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. 안전놀이터

On Dec 4, 2018 dfh wrote:

 Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.

I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new 
to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for beginner blog 
writers? I'd really appreciate it. <a href="" target="_blank">섯다</a>

On Dec 5, 2018 make wrote:

 You are sso awesome! I do not ssuppose I’ve truly read

something like that before. So good to discover somebody
with a few genuine thoughts on this issue. Really..
thanks forr starting this up. Thiis web site is onee thing that’s
needed on the internet, someone with some originality! ë¨¹íŠ€ê²€ì¦

On Dec 9, 2018 carremoval76 carremoval76 wrote:


I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. musikeroversigten

On Dec 16, 2018 prince U.S wrote:


Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. Wіllkоmmеnѕbоnuѕ slot