Pushing the boat to the sea...

sisi's picture

Average: 4.7 (20 votes)

Have you ever seen how the Goan fishermen prepare when they get the call to go to the sea?

Their boats are parked way into the beach on the sand to make sure they will not get swept away to the sea by the high tide. Sometimes the boats are 20-40 meter distant from the water.

When they feel it is time to go to the sea, they pull together and push the boat to the water. It is not easy as the sand underneath causes a considerable friction. They sometimes use various tricks to reduce the friction like putting wooden sticks on the trail and even pouring some oil on the sticks.

But once the boat reaches the water, their doing is done. Now the engine and the wind and the waves take control and do all the effort. The fishermen can now sit conveniently and silently on the boat's wooden seats and watch the beautiful enigmatic Goan sea in front and the distancing familiar shore behind.

Pushing the boat to the sea is the least and the most you can do on the spiritual path, the rest will just happen once you reach the water.

Phroggy's picture

How do you know when you've

How do you know when you've reached the water?

Phroggy | Mon, 09/01/2008 - 16:57
sisi's picture

you feel strange sensations

you feel strange cold sensations in your feet...

there is no one then to know.

sisi | Mon, 09/01/2008 - 21:51
Omkaradatta's picture

Trouble is...

... this advice isn't very practical, as I looked around for a boat but couldn't find one. Maybe it's sitting on the 'other shore' already? ;-).

P.S. if you're thinking "he knows what I'm talking about"... well, sorta, kinda... actually no, I don't :-p. Can you give a few concrete examples of "pushing your boat to the water, then leaving it alone to sail" ?


Omkaradatta | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 00:45
Phroggy's picture

The wet feet threshold

Hehe. I don't either, but I'm guessing what is meant is that mind is used as a tool to bring mind to some understanding and stillness, and then it's time to leave it alone and let the job finish itself. (ie drop the seeking) I was inquiring as to how one knows when this time has come and was informed that it's all about wet feet, so I'll be checking the dampness of my feet.

Phroggy | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 03:32
Omkaradatta's picture

When the time comes...

... it will probably be obvious. Perhaps some dramatic experience, or perhaps just mental silence for the first time. One can only seek (A) if there is someone to seek, and (B) if there's something to seek. When either the subject or object (or both) is missing, seeking won't be an issue anymore. Or even if the nature of time is clearly revealed, as seeking requires future and one cannot seek the Now.

BTW, it's happening naturally anyway - if you're really not there, do you think you're having a purposeful effect on any of this? You are yourself a naturally-arising mind effect ;-).


Omkaradatta | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 04:38
Phroggy's picture

Yes, that's what I finally

Yes, that's what I finally concluded, that it ends when it ends, but that doesn't stop me from questioning it, which is also part of what's happening.
There are times now when the mind spontaneously stops because it's not being particularly entertained by itself anymore, and I prefer this over the sort of mind control methods so often being talked about here.

Phroggy | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 07:00
nancy pro's picture

Future and now

Why worry about the future? Now push, push, push, push.

nancy pro | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 09:42
leo's picture


It is a beautiful allegory which simply tries to say (and explanations always destroy the beauty) that in the beginning, effort, from the perspective of the doer of the effort, may be needed but it will bring you only to the "starting point" of the path. From that point on, things will happen spontaneously and effortlessly on their own accord, again from the same perspective of the individual person. Moreover, trying to do from that point on (e.g. pushing the boat when it is already in deep water) will be for vain and even counterproductive.

leo | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 08:43
Omkaradatta's picture

Allegories, metaphors, etc...

I rarely find them beautiful anymore, as they are really only needed by a mind in darkness. Reality, this, here, now is so much more interesting and intense and real than some dreamy allegory.

Not to mention, isn't this rather obvious already? Who continues pushing a boat once it gets into deep water?


Omkaradatta | Tue, 09/02/2008 - 21:18
superwoman's picture

Allegories and koans are all you can have to communicate truth

One picture is worth 1000 words? One allegory's worth cannot be measured in words.

It's not a matter of ignorance or darkness. Reality can not be conveyed in words but at most be hinted through allegories and koans.

Of course, our mind wants clear definitions and words so that it could maintain its control.

When you get in tune with this allegory, you will see that it is not that obvious.

Your response reminds me the common response of some people to koans: obvious / rediculous / nonsense.

superwoman | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 13:47
Phroggy's picture

It was a joke. Folks here

It was a joke. Folks here are awfully serious. If you look further up in the thread you'll see that I not only described the meaning of the image/allegory for me but applied it to myself in asking how we know when it is time to stop the seeking.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 17:39
Quantum's picture

I'ts like a finger pointing at the moon." -Bruce Lee, ETD

"...they are really only needed by a mind in darkness. "

You you opposed to giving helpful aid to minds in darkness?

As I see it, some teacher who some may consider an enlightened might from some 2000 years ago, I think you heared of him, unless you've been in the dark, his name was...what was it, Yeshua, or Jesum, or, ibn Joseph, something like that, used allegories as helpful teaching tools, signposts, and fingers pointing at teh moon, so to speak, to give kindly aid to those minds in darkness who were wanting to be more in the light.

Quantum | Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:34
superwoman's picture

why explain?

Mind mind mind...

This tale is beautiful and profound. Why spoil it with explanations?

There cannot be one explanation. Instead of asking for explanations, find your own interpretation of this allegory and meditate on it.

superwoman | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 13:46
Phroggy's picture

Finding our own

Finding our own interpretations is what the explaining is about. Some are doing that and others are bitching about it.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 17:41
george's picture


No, they are precisely because explanations and interpretations can not reach them. These just try to take them back to the domain of words and thus stain and drain them. The reason for poems, allegories and mainly koans - their only purpose it to take you to the place beyond reason and words, to a state of true realization, the wow with open mouth that cannot be conveyed in words.

george | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 16:34
Phroggy's picture


They begin in the "domain of words". The story above is not that deep and unfathomable. Contemplate it, look at it, and even ::::GASP!::: talk about it, and you might gain some clarity. Don't elevate everything beyond mind. It's your mind that likes to do that.

::::The sound of one finger typing....tap....tap...:::::

Phroggy | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 23:57
davids's picture

B E A U T I F U L and so

B E A U T I F U L and so accurate allegory. Couldn't be delivered better.

Have seen these Goan fishermen when pushing their boats. The friction with the sand is so hard sometimes.

davids | Fri, 11/28/2008 - 00:25
madan_gautam's picture

Pushing the boat to the sea......

This is the matter of faith,surrender,devotion.
The analytic mind has to do nothing with this.
Those who want to know TRUTH/GOD through mind and debate will never understand this phenomena and they will remain on beach just counting the waves. To learn to swim one has to dive in the water, without that no one can learn swimming.

madan_gautam | Mon, 12/01/2008 - 14:26
kulchnaui's picture

self-inflicted stagnation

I agree. I have met tricky minds that use the fact that at some point no effort is needed nor possible so they take it as an excuse to justify their laziness and fear in time when the effort is needed and it is evident to all except to them that they are deeply stuck in self-inflicted stagnation. This is a very dangerous trick especially in the case of beginners and people who are heavy thinkers, it is equally dangerous as putting too much effort in cases where effort is counterproductive.

The golden rule that always works is: find your core ideology and smash it:

* If you strongly confident that no effort should be put, that there is no one to put the effort and other speculative manipulations - then you should start doing effort, you must be aware to your fear of meditation, of not thinking, of not doing anything that fuels your ideology and start putting effort and provoke inner conflicts.

* If you believe that one should always engage in effort, in going against, in trying hard - then you should take a rest, slow down, be more at ease and gentle with your mind, avoid inner conflicts for a while.

Always suspect the ideologies you believe in the most and smash them.

kulchnaui | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 15:11
Omkaradatta's picture


> ...and it is evident to all except to them that
> they are deeply stuck in self-inflicted stagnation.

Should it matter to anybody but them?

P.S. confidence is not belief. If you're sure of something, no belief is required (e.g. you are alive, or that there's a nose on the end of your face) -- it's just obvious. If you're not sure and in doubt, you have to believe. Belief always demonstrates doubt, and doubt provokes us to beliefs.

Also, you talk a lot about 'dangers' above. What do you mean by danger? From here, danger is to life and limb e.g. the house is on fire, or a tornado is coming ;-).


Omkaradatta | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 23:58
Phroggy's picture


There's a lot of wisdom there. Mind is always looking for traps to fall into; always misinterpreting and distorting until it finally becomes clear and is no longer an issue because mind is what made it an issue to begin with.

Phroggy | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 00:15
Omkaradatta's picture

Mind and belief

Mind is always in resistance, true, thus it "falls into traps" as a means of resisting the truth. However, it seems here she's suggesting that sureness/confidence are 'dangerous' and that one should always be in doubt. In my view, this is ego's perspective.

Belief is not sureness or confidence -- belief is fear and doubt, belief is fragile. I don't need to affirm my belief in having a mouth before I can eat, I just lift a spoon up to it and put the food in. I'm confident that it's there, in other words.


Omkaradatta | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 00:43
nalabonga's picture

Careful balance

Great allegory and great depiction of the careful balance between effort and volition on one hand and surrender and non-doing on the other, in different stages.

Zealous non-doership approach is usually a manipulative justification for laziness. Zealous doership approach is usually a manipulative justification for preserving a dominance of the ego. We have all been in both extremes, sometimes for years, and realized that the truth lies, as in most cases, in the middle way. The pushing of the boat to the sea stand more than anything signifies a mature and effective point of view (it is all a matter of points of view, isn't it?).

nalabonga | Tue, 02/10/2009 - 09:09
Phroggy's picture


The extreme is the result of a misunderstanding, which always happens when the pointers are grasped conceptually instead of looking to see if what is being pointed at is true. There's never an excuse for responding in any way to a concept. The concept is false as are all concepts.

Nonvolition does not tell you what you should or shouldn't do, it says you are not doing it. Any volitional response to this understanding would be the wrong response, eh?

The truth does not lie in the 'middle way'. Truth is not a compromise. It is absolutely true that you have no volition. It is not false while pushing boats and then true when your feet start to get wet.

Phroggy | Tue, 02/10/2009 - 21:06
Tania's picture

this is just your assumption

"It is absolutely true that you have no volition."

This is not truth but simply your assumption. You cannot have any ground to this thesis apart of saying that you believe in it which is perfectly your right.

In the wildness of spirituality I also came to a solid conclusion that the middle path is the optimal and most effective. This is based on my own personal experience as well as on my observations over the years of people that I have felt were truly advanced - Indeed there is a need to push the boat and then there is something metaphysical call it God, call it Soul, call it your guiding angel that dawns on you with its unbelievable grace.

PS1. there are those who have already started pushing the boat in past lives and initially do not remember it (I am an example for this - I needed help to recall it - nowadays I have access to these memories like I have of this life memories) and the very remembering is part of the pushing in this life.

PS2. And there are those who push the boat in increadible suffering and do not know that what they do accounts for pushing. For example Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie.

Tania | Mon, 05/11/2009 - 13:34
Phroggy's picture


It is not my assumption and it is not a thesis, it is clearly what is so and it requires only that you look to see for yourself instead of dismissing it as assumption and thesis.

The middle way does not define a balance between extremes. It refers to what I used to call the third hand. On the one hand, you can claim volition and on the other hand you can deny volition, both of which assume there is somebody present to either affirm or deny, and so they are both volition. On the third hand, you can transcend both polarities and realize you are that which observes both volition and nonvolition; the pushing of the boat and the ceasing.

It is not that you need to do this and then stop doing it, it is that you need to realize you were never doing, nor were you ever not doing. This is the middle way.

Phroggy | Tue, 05/12/2009 - 03:42
Jasmin's picture

it is a theory for the mind

All effective speaking is speaking to the perspective of the mind because currently this is what you are and in order to go forward you first must accept this and speak to the French in French.

Everybody hears that they are not the body and the mind, so what? And many truly put their trust in this statement and believe in it, so what? Have they all got enlightened. Are you enlightened? of course not. The mind which is what you currently are is not impressed by these proclamations. From this perspective of the mind which is your current starting point this is indeed just a theory. For this and from the perspective of the mind (not the logic of the mind, just its conditioned view of reality) there is a need for something more. Statements do nothing and these realizations cannot be "proved" to the mind by erroneous logic and limited observation - these completely "prove" that these "You are not the body-mind" is wrong (e.g. science)

I also agree with what is called here middle way. Life proves that it is the most effective.

There is a need for a temporal force from a certain faculty of the mind and there is a need for grace. After some mystic experiences over the years I know that there is more than just

Jasmin | Tue, 05/12/2009 - 06:05
Phroggy's picture


Well, for the third time, what I am suggesting is that you look and see for yourself what the truth is about volition instead of dismissing it as theory and innefective to the mind. The mind is most definitely 'impressed' by this realization. For me, it has gone through various stages of grief. Denial, anger, negotiation and finally acceptance. Funny how much it is like the death of a loved one. Be honest with yourself, you don't want to grieve and so you don't want to look too closely. Don't be angry with me for pointing it out. I'm not the enemy here.

PS I am not "currently the mind". It doesn't work that way.

Phroggy | Tue, 05/12/2009 - 09:17
Omkaradatta's picture

Why bother?

> look and see for yourself

Why bother? These people don't want to look for themselves. They just want to claim there's something wrong with others and their point of view. The whole focus on others obscures the Self, which is what is wanted.

The obvious response to a 'theory' is not to complain, but to test the theory (or, like you said, 'look for yourself'). This is what nobody wants to do, because spirituality itself is a resistance to 'what is'.

Folks seek 'what is not', and are not interested in the truth. They will go to any lengths to leave the option of an "enlightened future" open, including denying any truth presented now. What they fail to see is that this will not change in the future. It's Now or never.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 05/12/2009 - 13:18
not_me's picture

Bother for your own sake!

I don't know if effort is needed or maybe all is predetermined or maybe effort is counterproductive (and nobody actually can know this for sure and it's time all will admit that for their own sake) but one thing jumps to my attention as funny all the time after reading the discussions for some time: it's amazing how you two are protecting yourselves from challenging your idee fixe by making convenient statements that it's always the "others", the "other people" that do not want to know the truth etc... no matter how many and how diverse they are... it seems that you never truly consider or even read thoroughly what others write to you, and if you do you always read it through the glasses of what you believe in, you always efficient in looking for the faults of "all others together", blame it on group think (which clearly is not the case of these diverse people), always look for the hidden reasons of "all others together" (as if there is some consortium or a coordinated group), and you never question your motives and stands - this is the best policy to remain in ignorance. This is the unfortunate state of secular people, of orthodox religious people and indeed of many path-attached spiritual people. I read what you reply to others and it looks to me as plain projection. Pity because you seem to me as very intelligent guys... Wake up!

not_me | Tue, 05/12/2009 - 22:03
Phroggy's picture


Yes, it's silly, isn't it? However, I understand why I'm here. It's become very clear how sincere, dedicated folks can unknowingly keep the Truth away while trying very hard to find it. It is, of course, what I've been doing as well. Something many 'Awakened' ones have said is that the real miracle is how we manage to remain asleep, and even I can see the absurdity of this intuitively, but I'm seeing how this actually comes about by watching the folks on this forum.

I know nothing is hidden and yet the reasons for not looking are endless. As our unconscious friend 'not_me' implies here, it is a reflection of my own resistance, and is therefore potentially useful to me. It's not necessary that anyone hear me because it's not about them, though it would be a lot more fun if they tried and some actual discussion could happen.

Phroggy | Wed, 05/13/2009 - 00:29
Omkaradatta's picture

Fair 'nuff

"As our unconscious friend 'not_me' implies here, it is a reflection of my own resistance, and is therefore potentially useful to me."

Fair 'nuff... forgive me tho if it's just painful to watch from here, and not at all useful. After 'waking up' in January of '08 and rejoining the lists to try and help folks, I found that not only is awakening non-communicable, but people actively and fearfully reject truth-related talks.

I'm essentially done with spirituality altogether at this point... soon it will be as though the concept doesn't even exist, and nothing could be more welcome. Enjoy, Phrog ;-). Please keep in touch.


Omkaradatta | Wed, 05/13/2009 - 03:07
Phroggy's picture


Yes, and it's clear why the gurus aren't on a mission to save people from themselves. It simply can't be done. Everybody sees what they see when they see it and nothing can change that.

Phroggy | Wed, 05/13/2009 - 20:24
abra's picture


I warmly advise the two of you to read the excellent article of Alan Jacobs at http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/neoadvaita_jacobs.htm


abra | Thu, 05/14/2009 - 08:27
Phroggy's picture


Why? So that I'll stop telling people I'm enlightened. Let me make this clear.

Is there any chance anybody heard that? I don't know what other words to use. What I talk about here is what I know to be true. Not what I have heard in some neo-Advaita satsang, not what I have conceptualized or theorized or analyzed or mentated or dreamed about or even experienced. I talk about what i see, and i see it simply because i have looked, which is all that I have been suggesting to others.

When what I say is said by some guru, everyone thinks it's wonderful. when i say it, everyone shakes their head in disgust. It's okay, this is the nature of ego, but nobody is hearing the guru either. Does the guru say, "You must find the right trick or technique to control the mind"? If not, why are you all looking for tricks and techniques? Does the guru say you can cause enlightenment to happen? If not, why aren't you looking to see if that's true instead of looking for the next spiritual experience?

All I'm doing is pointing out these inconsistencies, and you all barely tollerate me like an ignorant child who can't understand grown-up matters.

Phroggy | Thu, 05/14/2009 - 17:38
Quantum's picture

some stories...

Hello Phroggy, now I have some framework in which I can have my own understanding of where you are coming from. Le me share, friend, in poetic, story telling, non-scientific way.

A leaf falls, a scientist will dissect it and analyze it under a miscroscope. He documents what he sees. No more no less. Just the facts as he sees it. This is what it is. And he is correct. He is scientifically and measurably accurate. If he wasn't he would not be a very good scientist. So, nothing wrong with this, as long as what you see is all you want to find.

A zen master, sees the same leaf fall, and he says, "What a beautiful leaf."

"What I talk about here is what I know to be true. (Not what I have heard in some neo-Advaita satsang, not what I have conceptualized or theorized or analyzed or mentated or dreamed about or even experienced.) I talk about what i see, and i see it simply because i have looked, which is all that I have been suggesting to others."

Yes, indeed. Nothing wrong with this. It would seem to me that any good scientist can admire your emipirical approach to observation of what you see.

"When what I say is said by some guru, everyone thinks it's wonderful. when i say it, everyone shakes their head in disgust."

Another story for you:
A long time ago, in somebody's house, in a neighborhood, not so far away, could have been down the block, a dinner party among church members was in progress. One of the guests was an actor, and a very good orator at that. I think the party was in his honor. He just won some acting award, you see. Another guest was a simple man, who never missed a Sunday service (or Mass, if you're a Catholic like me.. hehe. Ad Majorum Dei, my friend. :) ). I don't know what he did for a living. Nothing special, being the simple fellow that he is. But he did have a simple quiet faith, and he loved God. Being the simple fellow that he was, and all.

Somewhere between dinner and dessert, someone told me it was ice cream, the guests asked the orator to recite "The Lord is my Shepherd", the 23rd Psalm, I think it is. This he did. When he was done, everyone cheered and loudly applauded. He was so good. Intonation, inflection, perfect!

Then they asked the simple man to also recite "The Lord is my Sheperd." Which he did. After he was done, everyone remained silent. No one said a word. There was no applauce. But there was not one dry eye around the table.

Later a friend took him aside and said, "The Orator fellow knows 'The Lord's Prayer.' But, you know The Lord."

"All I'm doing is pointing out these inconsistencies..."

Another story for you:

One day a poor cobbler won the lottery. An envious customer asked him how he did it. The poor cobbler said, "Well, I like the number 7, so I selected numbers that are multiples of seven: 7, 14, 21, 3, 28.... The customer interrupted and pointing out the inconsistency said, "Hey wait! 3 is not a multiple of 7!" The cobbler replied, "Ah, you have the arithmetic, I have the lottery money."
-Based on a zen story taken from "Zennis" page 57

A final poem for you regarding a less scientific way to see what is:

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and Eternity in an hour."
-William Blake, from "Auguries of Innocence"

Peace and Love,

Quantum | Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:24
abra's picture

common confusion

I don't think you have waken up, you radiate none of the subtle qualities typical to awaken people. You may certainly underwent an important mental-spiritual experience but it is not waking up for sure. You can easily sense those who have underwent it.

Your erroneous belief is common among quite a lot of people who had similar experiences to what you described in your website. I once had the same delusion for a long time based on such experiences until a kind teacher managed to pull me out of this stagnant state. The danger of this belief is that you do not go further anymore and instead get stuck in your relative ignorance.

I recommend you to read the article I pointed to below which discusses this type of confusion plus there are many others on the net.

abra | Thu, 05/14/2009 - 08:48
Quantum's picture

where is the article

Hey, Abra, wher is the article you mentioned? I want to read it.

I read somethign from Ram Dass the other day...don't know why, but that fellow resonates with me. Usually, I scan books, but his books...well, I savored every word of every sentence. Somethign about that fellow. I don't usually feel that way for many others, except for Maybe Tolle, but with Tolle, I'm scanning for data and methods. With Ram Dass, I savored the reading experience. Anyway...

He (Ram) mentioned that he found that anyone can have an experience, and a valid one at that, but he mentioned that if the ego is intact when you have that genuine experience, you can come out of it with delusions of Godhood. So, I think I know what you mean in your post above.

Quantum | Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:41
lalo's picture

see 3 comments above

see 3 comments above

lalo | Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:46
happy together's picture

Brilliant analogy

This is so beautiful and so so true:

"Pushing the boat to the sea is the least and the most you can do on the spiritual path, the rest will just happen once you reach the water."

So many minds of us are too lazy to push the boat and so many minds of us are too a control freak to continue pushing the boat when it is already in the water.

happy together | Fri, 03/18/2011 - 08:08