Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog

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The Buddha and Rod Stewart. The Raft and Sailing to be Free

At first glance, you probably cannot imagine much connection between the Buddha and rock/pop singer, Rod Stewart. I have found one. Admittedly, it is a little tenuous.

The Buddha gave a classic discourse on The Simile of the Snake on grasping onto the teachings which end up causing harm and suffering, such use of the teachings for self-righteousness, putting down others and inflaming self-importance.

The same discourse contains the much-loved Simile of the Raft.

The Buddha – Dharma teacher, using discourses, stanzas, expositions, verses, exclamations, sayings and personal (birth) stories. 563 BCE – 483 BCE.

He offered the Simile of the Raft – on crossing over from the shore of suffering to Freedom from Suffering.

The Buddha said:

“I shall show you how the Dhamma is similar to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of grasping.

Suppose a man in the course of a journey saw a great expanse of water, whose near shore was dangerous and fearful and whose further shore was safe and free from fear, but there was no ferryboat or bridge going to the far shore. Suppose I make a raft and get safely across to the far shore.

‘This raft has been very helpful to me.

I got safely across to the far shore.

Suppose I were to hoist it on my head or load it on my shoulder, and then go wherever I want.’

The Buddha said to the Sangha, “Should that be done?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“I have shown you how the Dhamma is similar to a raft, being for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of grasping.

When you know the Dhamma to be similar to a raft, you should abandon even good (healthy states of mind), how much more so bad states (unhealthy states of mind).

The Buddha teaches freedom which includes freedom from holding onto the Dharma, freedom from holding onto healthy states of mind as well as unhealthy states.

This is a radical statement – a teaching of seeing and knowing freedom from any kind of grasping including what ends any kind of mental suffering.

Rod Stewart (rock/pop singer/Scottish/English, 1945 -)

In one of his best loved songs, Rod Stewart sings about sailing across stormy waters to be free. He uses another verse about flying through the clouds and passing through the dark night of suffering to be with God. Can you hear me? Rod appeals to God to hear his suffering as he crosses over to the other shore.

The Buddha heard the suffering of humanity and provided the raft to cross the stormy sea to freedom with a reminder not to hold onto the raft.

I regard the song as deeply spiritual in its meaning. Sutherland Brothers wrote the song. Rod recorded it in 1975.

SAILING

I am sailing
I am sailing
Home again
‘Cross the sea
I am sailing
Stormy waters
To be near you
To be free

I am flying
I am flying
Like a bird
‘Cross the sky
I am flying
Passing high clouds
To be near you
To be free

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Through the dark night, far away
I am dying, forever crying
To be with you, who can say

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Through the dark night, far away
I am dying, forever crying
To be with you, who can say?

We are sailing, we are sailing
Home again
‘Cross the sea
We are sailing
Stormy waters
To be near you
To be free

Oh, Lord, to be near you, to be free
Oh, my Lord, to be near you, to be free
Oh, my Lord, to be near you, to be free
Oh, Lord.

Official video of Rod Stewart singing Sailing.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOt3oQ_k008

The background to the video appears to be New York harbour. Rod and others (we are sailing) appear to be departing across the sea from a dangerous and fearful USA. I have friends who can appreciate such motives for sailing out of the deeply troubled USA.

Enjoy the song. More than 44,000,000 have watched this Rod Stewart video.

Take the lyrics to heart.

PS. Am offering two 60 minute sessions on The Buddha’s discourse on the Simile of the Snake on Saturday 25 June 2022.

Join our Buddha Study Guide on Zoom on Saturday 25 June 2022. An Exploration of a Classic Discourse.Two 60-minute sessions. Register for link. No charge.

www.christophertitmuss.net

 

 

 

 

 



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