There is a wonderful book called The Raft Is Not the Shore: Conversations Toward a Buddhist/Christian Awareness. The conversations in the book are between Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, and Daniel Berrigan, a Roman Catholic priest. The title refers to a precept of Buddhism which Hanh describes: “It is often said that the Buddha’s teaching is only a raft to help you cross the river, a finger pointing to the moon. Don’t mistake the finger for the moon. The raft is not the shore. If we cling to the raft, if we cling to the finger, we miss everything. We cannot, in the name of the finger or the raft, kill each other. Human life is more precious than any ideology, any doctrine.”
There are all kinds of rafts: religious rafts (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, etc.), economic rafts (capitalist, socialist, communist), political rafts (Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative), ethnic rafts (white, black, Hispanic, Arab, etc.) and… I’m sure there are others, but it’s taking me too long to think of any more. Anything from which people form any part of their identity can become a raft. It appears to me, for example, that some people are clinging to the raft of being “Republican” – while others have no problem abandoning ship.
What rafts are you on, and what shore are you trying to reach?