Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Parable of the Raft

"Monks, I will teach you the parable of the raft - for getting across, not for retaining. It is like a man who going on a journey sees a great stretch of water, the near bank with dangers and fears, the farther bank secure and without fears, but there is neither a bot for crossing over, nor a bridge across. It occurs to him that to cross over from the perils of this bank to the security of the farther bank, he should fashion a raft out of sticks and branches and depending on the raft, cross over to safety. When he has done this it occurs to him that the raft has been very useful and wonders if he ought to take it with him on his head and shoulders. What do you think, monks? That the man is doing what should be done with the raft?"
"No, lord."
"What should that man do, monks? When he has crossed over to the beyond he must leave the raft and proceed on his journey. Monks, a man doing this would be doing what should be done to the raft. In this way I have taught you Dharma, like the parable of the raft, for getting across, not for retaining.  You, monks, by understanding the parable of the raft, must not cling to right states of mind and, all the more, to wrong states of mind."
- adapted from the MAJJHIMA NIKAYA, translated by Christmas Humphreys

It's interesting that, as I've gotten older, certain people, interests, habits, exercises, training protocols, etc. just simply don't do it for me anymore. It is not surprising really. The only constant is change and sometimes change is hard. It can be difficult, even frightening, to let go of the familiar, especially when the familiar brought you this far. However, letting go of the raft can be freeing as well.

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