Categories: Gettin The Mind Right

The Raft Parable

Happy Monday!

Have you heard the Raft Parable?


As the story goes, there was a man traveling along a path came to a big expanse of water. As he stood on the shore, he realized there was great danger and discomfort all around him, while the other side of the water seemed safe.


The man looked for a boat or bridge but couldn’t find either. So with great effort, he put together a raft with his bare hands. He gathered twigs, grasses, & branches, and some how managed to tie them all together to create a raft that would support his body and carry him to the other side. He spent a fair amount of time on this raft and was extremely proud of his creation, especially once he made it safely to the other side.


But once he finally made it to the other side, he was torn – what should he do with the raft he spent hours on and relied on to essentially save his life, carrying him across the other side?


Shall he carry it on his back and forcefully drag it along the rest of his journey, even though there was no water in sight?


Or shall he leave it by the shore (perhaps for another journeyer to use?) so he could more efficiently continue on his journey?


The moral of the raft parable is that through our journey through life, we become emeshed with people, places and things that at one point mean everything to us, but then hit a point where we must leave them behind to get to the next part of our journey.


Typically when faced with this type of situation, there are two very common responses:


  • Stubbornness: I built this raft, I can’t leave it behind!
    Our inability to let things go often shows up in relationships when they run their course or we lose someone.

The teaching here is to appreciate what it was for when you needed it and for the role it served for you, but also to recognize the fact that forcefully dragging it forward can do more harm than good.


  • Bitterness: Why did I spend all that time and effort on the raft only to leave it behind?
    This is our inner “Captain Obvious”, looking back in hindsight connecting more sensible solutions but as we know, hindsight is 20/20. In the moment, all we can do is our best to make the best decisions with the information we have available at the time. Personally, I know I’ve struggled with this before – thinking ‘Why did I do that or why didn’t I just…’ However, those bitter, self-recriminations judgments not only serve no purpose, they can be dangerous.

The teaching here is to recognize that at any given point, there is no right or wrong answer. Obviously we’re talking about living within the law, but morality and “the best” decisions are relative to our own very unique past experiences, values and knowledge. So all you can ever really do is your best in the moment, monitor what happens, correct and repeat.

It’s easy to forget while looking back that our “raft” served us well in that moment. So express gratitude and thanks for that “raft.”



What rafts are you still carrying?


Why rafts have you let go of but still make you resentful?



So often we look to external things for help when so many of the answers we need are found by examining our inner self.






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