This was said by the Lord, said by the Arahant, so I heard:
“Suppose, bhikkhus, a man was being borne along by the current of a river that seemed pleasant and agreeable. But upon seeing him, a keen-sighted man standing on the bank would call out to him: ‘Hey, good man! Although you are being borne along by the current of a river that seems pleasant and agreeable, lower down there is a pool with turbulent waves and swirling eddies, with monsters and demons. On reaching that pool you will die or suffer close to death.’ Then, bhikkhus, upon hearing the words of that person, that man would struggle against the current with hands and feet.
“I have made use of this simile, bhikkhus, to illustrate the meaning. And this is the meaning here: ‘The current of the river’ is a synonym for craving. ‘Seeming pleasant and agreeable’ is a synonym for the six internal sense-bases. ‘The pool lower down’ is a synonym for the five lower fetters.‘Turbulent waves’ is a synonym for anger and frustration. ‘Swirling eddies’ is a synonym for the five strands of sensual pleasure. ‘Monsters and demons’ is a synonym for womenfolk. ‘Against the current’ is a synonym for renunciation. ‘Struggling with hands and feet’ is a synonym for instigating energy. ‘The keen-sighted man standing on the bank’ is a synonym for the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One.”
This is the meaning of what the Lord said. So in regard to this it was said:
Desiring future security from bondage
One should abandon sensual desire
However painful this may be.
Rightly comprehending with wisdom,
Possessing a mind that is well released,
One may reach freedom step by step.
One who is a master of knowledge,
Who has lived the holy life,
Is called one gone to the world’s end,
One who has reached the further shore.
This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.
Read this translation of Itivuttaka 109 Nadīsotasutta: The River Current by John D. Ireland on SuttaCentral.net.
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