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raft parable

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Often-cited parable that occurs in the Discourse on the Parable of the Water Snake (Alagaddūpama Sutta) in the Majjhima Nikāya of the Pāli Canon. The parable relates to a traveller who fords a stream by paddling across using a coracle or raft, and the Buddha asks whether it would be appropriate or not for the man to carry the raft with him once he had crossed. The parable is often thought to mean that the body of Buddhist teachings and moral precepts have only provisional utility as a means to gaining enlightenment (bodhi) and can thereafter be discarded. A more careful reading of the passage shows, however, that its meaning is not that the teachings themselves are to abandoned en bloc but simply that certain teachings may on occasion be misunderstood or abused.

Subjects: Religion

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