Living a Joyful and Peaceful Life
One of the Buddha’s most famous teachings is the Parable of the Raft. In it he likened his teachings to a raft for crossing a fast-flowing river.
A man is trapped on one side of a river. On this side of the river, there is great danger and uncertainty; on the far side is safety. But there is no bridge spanning the river, nor is there a ferry to cross over. What to do? The man gathers together logs, leaves, and creepers and by his wit fashions a raft from these materials. By lying on the raft and using his hands and feet as paddles he manages to cross the river from the dangerous side to the side of safety.
The Buddha then asks the listeners a question. What would you think if the man, having crossed over the river thought to himself, “That raft has served me well I will carry it on my back over the land now?” The monks replied that it would not be a very sensible idea to cling to the raft in such a way. The Buddha went on, What if he lay the raft down gratefully thinking that this raft has served him well but is no longer of use and can thus be laid down upon the shore? The monks replied that this would be the proper attitude. The Buddha concluded by saying, “So it is with my teachings which are like a raft and are for crossing over with—not for seizing hold of.”
So many profound teachings and tools are like the raft in our story. They are indeed useful to cross the river of life, however they are not be clung to. The sole purpose of any method of spiritual teaching is to enable seekers to get across the river of suffering and pain across to the “other shore” – the shore of peace and joy.
“Letting Go” goes beyond the raft and teaches us not to hold on to anything that is ephemeral or impermanent. Our material possessions, desires, emotions, thoughts, and knowledge are each bound in time, space and causation. Each are causes of suffering. Only by transcending these life phenomenon can we experience a joyful and peaceful life.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras ~300 BC
Sutra 1.16: Knowing the innermost Self brings supreme non-attachment (pa-ra-vairagya).
Ultimately we don’t have to do anything to attain detachment but hold to our meditative practice to reveal the source of all we ever thought we desired. Then there is nothing else to crave; we have found enduring happiness that is there no matter what else appears before us. In the fullness of the heart there is nothing else to desire. In this dispassionate state we enjoy whatever comes to us, and freely release whatever leaves us while attending to dharma in the world.
Sutra 1.18: Asamprajnata samadhi is cessation of mentation (nirvikalpa) attained by supreme detachment (para-vairagya) leaving only latent impressions (samskaras).
Para-vairagya is a practice of indifference to arising thoughts, while absorbed in the unchanging self-luminescence of pure awareness. Over time, vrittis, due to lack of interest, simply no longer arise leaving natural, persistent inner stillness. This is something we can apply to our own daily meditation: losing interest in whatever disturbs the stillness. This is difficult if we are interested enough in a thought to become involved with it, thus falling back into duality. We have to inspect our interest in arising thoughts and let go of our interest in them. Here we come to true detachment. Letting go of outer attachment is just practice for the real thing.
- Practice “Letting go” of personal materials possession. If any materials of yours are missing, lost, or damaged, can you let them go?
- Practice “Letting go” of personal attachment to sensual pleasures. If any of your favorite food, entertainment, even love is missing can you let it go?
- Practice “Letting go” of emotions, desires, likes, or dislikes. If any of these traits arise in your mind can you let them go?
- Practice “Letting go” of our loved ones when they are no longer available in our lives.
What is Spiritual Healing?
Spiritual healing is not about dogmatic rituals that we have to perform or the specific ways that we have to live. It is about the connection to our inner teacher, a teacher who speaks the truth to us when our mind is quiet, and there is no interference of learned knowledge or philosophy. It is about our connection to the essences of our universe, water, air, fire, earth, and ether. These elements are who we are, where we came from not long ago, and where we will return in the very near future.
Spiritual healing is about our connection to our spiritual beings, beyond our physical temporary existence in this universe. It is about the connection to the cycle of the universe and the cycle of our human race. Those cycles are the same; the difference in time and space are only created in the human mind.
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