The Raft.

We use the raft to cross over, it is useful. Yet, when we reach the other side, we leave it behind. Fools cling to teaching for teaching’s sake– carrying rafts on their heads forever.

raft

Comments.

This simile appears a few places, but the following is from the Alagaddupama Sutta (MN 22). This teaching comes to mind when I observe people clinging tightly to what they perceive to be truth.

There is GnoTruth. The “G” is silent. There is no truth. No truth like the truth they expect… This wrong view is a source of pain. Yet, in reaction to that pain, they cling more tightly to word teachings. One who displays this behavior is worthy of pity.

On the other hand, there are people who go so formless that they have no truth. For these, we remember the “G” and see Gnosis-Truth. Gnosis is experiential awareness, while Dharmakaya cannot be brought down into word-world, it can certainly be experienced, as the ground of being and non-being.

So, use that raft, cross over to the other shore– move away from danger. But, having found safety, having left the shore of danger, only fools will continue to carry the raft they used to cross.

The Raft Simile:

The Blessed One said: “Suppose a man were traveling along a path. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, ‘Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?’ Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands & feet. [7] Having crossed over to the further shore, he might think, ‘How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don’t I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying it on my back, go wherever I like?’ What do you think, monks: Would the man, in doing that, be doing what should be done with the raft?”

“No, lord.”

“And what should the man do in order to be doing what should be done with the raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, ‘How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don’t I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like?’ In doing this, he would be doing what should be done with the raft. In the same way, monks, I have taught the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dhamma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, to say nothing of non-Dhammas.”

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