The Raft – a soul soothing parable

The Buddha once told a story of a man who lived many moons ago. After days of travelling on foot through bushes and swamps he reached a massive bed of water. Just within his sight he could see an island, which gave him promise of comfort and safety.

The man knew his only option was to find a way across.

He spent hours collecting broken branches and long strands of grass, then began to build a raft that could keep him afloat.

The man wearily climbed on and began paddling away from shore. Some time later, he arrived on the island, and was free to continue on his journey.

The Buddha posed the following question to this followers:

What should the man now do with the raft?

This teaching is in fact about Buddhist practice and the road to enlightenment but it is applicable to many different situations in life.

It would have been impossible to cross the water without building the raft, but to drag it across land just because he needed it once would hold the man back on his journey.

This parable demonstrates to us how certain things in life: people, projects or actions, may be essential for us at one time, but in order to move on and grow, we must let go. There is no point in beating yourself up for the time and effort you may have expended in the past through relationships, work or otherwise. Instead be aware of how these factors helped you reach where you are now. Equally, we must not cling to comforts that have helped us in the past if they will not help us to succeed in our future goals.

“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” – Dalai Lama


What is your interpretation of this parable? Comment in the section below, or send me an email at cassidyholland@soulspace.ca, I would love to hear from you!

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