“However, the path itself must eventually be abandoned, just as you abandon a boat when you reach the other shore. You must disembark once you have arrived. At the point of total realization, you must abandon Buddhism. The spiritual path is a temporary solution, a placebo to be used until emptiness is understood.”

 Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

We each possess our very own custom-built raft. It’s that special vehicle we hope and believe will carry us across the ocean of our life to the “other shore”, a grace-filled place which we imagine will be different than where we are now — happier, more elegant, enlightened, and desirable, and certainly comfortably free from the pests, impediments, and tribulations which seem to constitute so much of our current circumstance.

Some rafts are material – an attractive and well-nourished physical form, a hefty bank account, the mini-mansion in the right neighborhood and a summer home out at the shore, several well-appointed automobiles, an exotic travelogue, a big screen tv in every room with 1000 satellite channels, an enviable collection of enviable collectibles, and plenty of bling to flash around and confirm that one’s raft is all about travelling in style.

Other rafts are relational – that promising new date or mate, those intimate friends with their own stylish rafts, or the cozy familial arrangement which promises to satisfy that ancient genetic mandate.

Some are political – the call of the herd, the song of the tribe, the nationalistic anthem, and jihad on all infidel rafts (be they Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Capitalists, Socialists, Greenies, Monarchists, Theocrats, or some modified version of any of the above rafting positions).

Other rafts are religious/spiritual – the deified redeemer raft, that promising new guru, pastor, master, or prophet, the potent meditation technique everyone’s talking about, the authoritative doctrinal belief, special mantra, perfect posture, secret initiation, hoped-for vision, kundalini shakitpat, or unexcelled Dharma teaching guaranteed to provide us with a stairway to Nirvana in one lifetime.

stairway to heaven

Regardless of their particular idiosyncratic quality, all of our rafts have one thing in common: they are assembled of the same materials and ingredients – hope and fear. Hope and fear are both mental projections about what’s to come, and being dependent on future outcomes (and past regrets), both preclude being present right here and now. Both hope and fear represent an avoidance of uncertainty, and yet the Unknown is actually our true home, if we really are serious about freedom.

Liberating ourselves from distracting concerns about success or failure, we become available, and much better able to focus our attention and intention on the present moment with clarity and freshness. Abandoning the false urgency that’s spawned by hope and fear, we can relax and enjoy the rare virtue of patience – at peace with our circumstance, and capable of true listening, listening to ourselves, our relations, and to the whole universe, just as it is.


Does this mean we should discard any raft, any means, regardless of how expedient, that could serve us along the way? Certainly not – any vehicle which we might make temporary use of merely needs to be seen for what it is, with right discernment. Recognizing it in this manner, and also keeping in mind that we are not the raft, we can freely employ it as immediate circumstances may require, but we don’t need to tote it around on our back for the rest of our lives. Once it has served its purpose, it can be discarded, in the same way we would discard a thorn which we have used to remove another thorn.

A problem arises, however, when we are unwilling to let go of the raft, even if it is no longer serving us. We tend to cling to obsolete views, preconceptions, and beliefs about ourselves and the way life should be, because they give us a feeling of safety and security. By fixating on old patterns, schemes, and escape plans, we invariably stagnate. Only by our seeing through and letting go of all habitual reactivity and conditional strategies, does the Real have a chance to emerge from the background and reveal itself to us.

Nor is “It” on the other shore, awaiting us in some idealized future. This is the other shore, there is no other shore than this. This is the place right here and now where all of our rafts have delivered us, and so this is where the treasure awaits, this where we can awaken, and this is where we can let go and relax into the native happiness and radiant shine of our own true nature – hands free to give and heart wide open to receive.

“Don’t prolong the past,

don’t invite the future,

don’t be deceived by appearances,

just dwell in present awareness.”

~Patrul Rinpoche


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/1heart Essays on the Conscious Process: https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/ Verses and ramblings on life as it is: https://writingonwater934500566.wordpress.com/ Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: https://themindthatneverwas.wordpress.com/ Verses on the Play of Consciousness: https://onlydreaming187718380.wordpress.com/ Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: https://themysteriousexpanse.wordpress.com/ Poems of the Mountain Hermit: https://snowypathtonowhere.wordpress.com/ Love Poems from The Book of Yes: https://lovesight.wordpress.com/ Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: https://travelsindreamland.wordpress.com/ Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: https://freetransliterations.wordpress.com/ Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: https://westernmystics.wordpress.com/ Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: https://spiritguidesparrow.wordpress.com/ Thank You!
This entry was posted in Nonduality, Spiritual Practice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Rafts

  1. Bob OHearn says:

    One day a young seeker on his journey home, came to the banks of a wide river.

    Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier.

    Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river.

    The young seeker yells over to the teacher,

    “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?
    The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back,

    “My son, you are on the other side”.

    “The term ‘this shore’ refers to samsaric phenomena, ‘the other shore’ to that beyond samsara. When applying this experientially in your own stream of being, look into the normal thinking mind belonging to this shore, and thereby see that it is utterly insubstantial, a cognizance that cannot be apprehended. This is known as ‘arriving at the other shore’ and is the vital point of dissolving this shore into arriving at the other shore”.


  2. Madamoiselle C says:

    Thank you a million times over, Bob. For your time, energies, effort and love.


  3. Jan Springs/mc says:

    Funny, Bob. I sensed the ethereal when running the other day. But then I go back to being full of hope and fear. Happy day to you and yours. 🙂


    • Bob OHearn says:

      Hope and fear seem to be part of the software package that comes with this human mainframe. Nevertheless, we don’t need to be at the mercy of uninspected programs, once we recognize them for what they are.


  4. tonysgarden says:

    I find it disappointing that even though I give up my rafts, others will find them, bring them out and drop them in front me pointing at it like I should care. Then become perturbed when I am indifferent. Like it is still mine. Yeah sure, I made it and used it, but I abandoned it. Many of them over the years served poorly and were mistakes. So it was. But the real problem is some think they should still be mine. My old forgotten ways repackaged and carried around by them as sort of service for me.
    So it is.

    Again, thanks for your insightful posts Bob.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Hi Tony,
      What others think and do is there for their own inspection and recognition, you have your own corner of the garden to tend, eh, and it is a good one.


  5. Candace says:

    I needed to read this. Thank you Brother!

    Love & Blessings!

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    There is no “right way” for awakening to happen. And even to call it awakening or enlightenment is a set-up for turning what is actually very simple into something imagined by the mind to be exotic and unattainable. All these different pointers are pointing to what is right here, right now. And if that isn’t 100% clear, then I’d suggest exploring whatever seems to be in the way and finding out directly how real this apparent obstacle is or isn’t. Or, if you prefer, you can turn your attention to the space in which this obstacle appears and discover that there is a bigger context and that your True Nature is always already free. Either way, whether you zoom in or out, if you go all the way, you’ll find the same spacious emptiness, the same freedom.

    This emptiness is what every form is, what every sensation is—this awaring present-ness, this no-thing-ness, a movement of energy, stillness, aliveness, unbound vastness. Truth is beyond words and beyond belief, and if you seek it, you tend to overlook it. And yet, at the same time, the longing to be free—if you go deeply into the pure fire of that longing—may be the doorway to this placeless place where you always already are. Actually, the gateless gate is everywhere (and nowhere). However you get here, being here is what matters. And then you realize you haven’t gone anywhere at all.

    ~Joan Tollifson

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    Maitreya said: “A path has to be abandoned.” Path is like a boat, you go to the other shore, use the boat, you reach the other shore. What do you do? You abandon the boat. You don’t stand on the boat because boat looks beautiful. Because otherwise you are not on the other shore. Yes the boat looks beautiful, boat is so smooth, and you had the best time with this boat. But your aim is to reach the other shore. Likewise, when you reach the buddhahood, not only the Vajrayana, all the other yanas are gone. Has to be.

    ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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