CROSSING OVER THE FLOOD
A devata. "How, dear sir, did you cross the flood?"
The Buddha, "By not halting, friend, and by not straining I crossed the flood."
"But how is it, dear sir, that by not halting and by not straining you crossed the flood?"
The Buddha "When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept away. It is in this way friend, that by not halting and by not straining I crossed the flood."
Many of us have come to think of the Buddha as a God Man. A man who was always Perfection. However, to do so, is to risk missing the purpose of the task that we have, as disciples of the Buddha, set before ourselves. We, like the Shakyan, Siddhartha, a seeker looking for an escape from suffering, face the same challenges that he did, but with one important difference: he found the solution and shared his Knowledge with us. We can use the teaching that he formulated his Knowledge as to achieve a clear and radiant consciousness, just as he did. It is not always easy to keep this in mind. There are times for many of us, when we find that we have lost our way to one degree or another, and that our practice is falling short of where we would like it to be. When this happens, it can be a comfort to know that we are in good company --- the bodhisattva, Siddhartha's. In the Pali Canon, we can find his humanity and see that it is like ours. We are told that there were times when he was afraid in the forest; times when he was dissatisfied with his teacher's achievements; times when he could see that what he was doing was not accomplishing what he hoped that it would and made different choices. Although it can be difficult to identify with the journey leading up to his realization of Buddhahood, it can be very helpful to do so. He was human, like us. Sometimes, he came to a standstill and sank. Sometimes, he struggled and got swept away. Having had these experiences himself, he was able to give us good advice on how to avoid them. In this regard, the importance of the Noble Eightfold Path cannot be underestimated. As we gain an understanding of each "fold" and come to see that, like a piece of cloth, the path is whole, that each fold is inseparable from the others, its value becomes apparent and the temptation to stand still or to struggle is undermined. Practice becomes more firmly established, we can stop standing still and we can stop straining. And, we, like Siddhartha, can cross the flood.