From the Crossing the Flood Sutta below, we read that the Buddha said that he crossed the flood (i.e. of suffering, of clinging to the world), neither by standing still, nor by struggling (or swimming). And that when he stood still, he sank, and when he tried to swim, he was swept away.
What does this mean?
What does standing still mean?
What does struggling or swimming mean?
If he neither stood still, nor swam, then how did he cross the flood of clinging and suffering?
From SN 1.1 (Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation):
“How, dear sir, did you cross the flood?”
“By not halting, friend, and by not straining I crossed the flood.”
“But how is it, dear sir, that by not halting and by not straining you crossed the flood?”
“When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept away. It is in this way, friend, that by not halting and by not straining I crossed the flood.”
From SN 1.1 (Bhikkhu Sujato's translation):
“Good sir, how did you cross the flood?”
“Neither standing nor swimming, sir, I crossed the flood.”
“But in what way did you cross the flood neither standing nor swimming?”
“When I stood still, I went under. And when I swam, I was swept away. That’s how I crossed the flood neither standing nor swimming.”