The Buddha explains how he "crossed over the flood" of craving.SN 1.1 PTS: S i 1 CDB i 89
Ogha-tarana Sutta: The Flood
Translated by Bhikkhu Nanananda
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #passage-1
Thus have I heard. The Exalted One was once staying near Savatthi at Jeta Grove, in A.nathapi.n.dika's Park. Now a certain deity, when the night was far spent, shedding radiance with his effulgent beauty over the whole Jeta Grove, came into the presence of the Exalted One, and coming, saluted him and stood at one side. So standing, he spake thus to the Exalted One:
"How did you, dear sir, cross the flood?"
[The Exalted One:] "Without tarrying, friend, and without hurrying did I cross the flood."
"But how did you, dear sir, without tarrying, without hurrying, cross the flood?"
"When I friend, tarried, then verily I sank; when I, friend, hurried, then verily I was swept away. And so, friend, untarrying, unhurrying, did I cross the flood."
- [The deity:]
Lo! Now what length of time since I beheld
A saint with all his passions quelled
One who, neither tarrying not yet hurrying.
Has got past the world's viscosity — Craving.
1. Four types of 'flood' (ogha) are distinguished: i. sense-desires (kaama); ii. becoming (bhava); iii. views (ai.t.thi); iv. ignorance (avijjaa).
2. The two words 'appati.t.tha.m' and 'anaayuuha.m' point to the Middle Path (majjhimaa pa.tipadaa) in its broadest sense.
In the case of the first flood (i.e., sense-desires), they bring out the ethical significance of the Noble Eightfold Path in the avoidance of the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. The former extreme tends to moral stagnation while the latter leads to extreme forms of asceticism which are not conducive to a healthy development of the mind. Since both attitudes of 'stagnation' and 'struggling' are ineffective against the flood of sense-desires, the Buddha's Middle Path advocates sanity and moderation.
Extreme reactions to the second flood (i.e., becoming), took the form of Eternalism and Annihilationism, which again reflect attitudes of attachment and aversion. The Eternalist 'leaned back' while Annihilationist 'over-reached' himself in the face of the problem of existence. "... Delighting in the existence, monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence and rejoice in it. When Dhamma is being preached (to them) their minds do not leap towards it, do not become pleased, established or released therein. Thus, monks, do some lean back. And how, monks, do some others over-reach themselves? Being afflicted by and loathing this very existence, some others delight in non-existence, thus: 'Inasmuch as this being, when the body breaks up, after death, gets annihilated, will be destroyed and be no more after death, this is peace, this is excellent this is the true state.' Thus, monks, some others over-reach themselves..." (Itiv. 43f). The former ran after his shadow, while the latter tried in vain to outstrip it, both being equally obsessed I taking it to be real. Here the Buddha's solution was to recognize the shadow for what it is by 'seeing-things-as-they-are' (yathaabhuuta~naa.nadassana) — as dependently arisen -, thus dispelling both Narcissistic love and morbid hate for it and ushering in equanimity in the light of wisdom. "... and how, monks, do those who have eyes, see? Herein, a monk sees the 'become' (bhuuta.m) as 'become.' Having seen the 'become' as 'become,' he treads the path towards the disenchantment, dispassion and cessation with regard to the 'become.' Thus it is monks, that those who have eyes see..." (ib).
The third flood (i.e., views) brought forth the dichotomy between the extreme views of absolute existence ('sabba.m atthi' — 'everything exists) and absolute non-existence ('sabba.m natthi) — 'nothing exists'). Avoiding these two extremes runs the Middle Path of Dependent arising: 'He who with right insight sees the arising of the world as it really is, does not hold with the non-existence of the world. And he who with right insight sees the passing away of the world as it really is, does not hold with the non-existence of the world.' (Kaccaayana S. S. II.17). In place of the static world-view of the metaphysicians and the nihilists we have here a dynamic vision of the rise and fall of phenomena.
The fourth flood (i.e., ignorance) resulted in the polarization of the extreme attitudes of extraversion and introversion, both of which spelt delusion (moha). This is the paradox of consciousness (vi~n~naa.na), inter-dependent as it is on name-and form (naamaruupa) — each providing a footing or support (pati.t.thaa) for the other. The deepest riddle of existence (bhava) lay between them as they doted upon each other forming the whirlpool of sa.msaara. (See below, Notes 38, 51). 'The consciousness turns back from name-and-form, it does not go beyond' (D.II.32). However much it tried to dart out of the vicious cycle with the force of sa.mkhaaras or formations, it found itself confronted by name-and-form. Epistemologically, all views — even those based on jhaanic experience — stood condemned, since they all centered around some aspect or other of name-and-form, which in its turn implicated consciousness itself. 'A seeing man will see name-and-form, and having seen, he will understand just those things. Verily, let him see much or little, yet the experts do not speak of purity thereby.' (Sn. 909). Similarly, the almost refrain-like pronouncement running through the concluding sections of the Brahmajaala Sutta (D. I. 41-44): 'even that is due to contact' (tadapi phassapaccayaa), is a disqualification of the whole range of sixty-two views, since 'contact' comes under 'name-and-form' (See below: Note 13.). The Buddha discovered a way out of this impasse in a unique realm of meditation in which the consciousness neither partakes of extraversion nor of introversion and is free from the sa.mkhaaras that keep one leashed to existence (bhava). It is the 'Deliverance-through-Knowledge' (a~n~naavimokha — Sn. 1107), having as its Fruit, the Knowledge of Nibbaanic freedom (A~n~naphala — A. IV. 428.) The consciousness, now, is 'non-manifestative' (anidassana D. I. 213), providing no footing for name-and-form, and it is neither distracted or diffuse without (... 'bahiddhaa c'assa vi~n~nanam avikkhitta.m avisata.m M. III. 223) nor established within (ajjhatta.m — asa.n.thita.m'-ib); neither 'approaching' (anupaayo — M. III. 25), nor 'receding' (anapaayo-ib.); neither 'turned-towards (nacaabhinato — A. IV. 428., S. I. 28), nor 'turned-outwards' (nacaapanato-ib.); neither 'focused' (asa.mhiira.m — M. III.187) nor 'excitable' (asa.mkuppam-ib.). Having no object (anaaramma~na.m — Ud.80), it is 'unestablished' (appati.t.tha.m-ib.) and non-continuing' (appavattam-ib.). It is not a state of pent up tension, forcibly held in check by formations ('na sasa.nkhaaraniggayha-vaaritavato' — A. IV. 428.). This level of transcendental experience was so subtle and refractory to definition, that the Buddha declared: "This too were a state very difficult to see, that is to say the calming of all formations, the renunciation of all assets, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbaana." (idampi kno .thaana.m sududdasa.m yadida.m sabbasa.mkharasamatho sabbuu padhi pa.tinissaggo ta.nhak khayo viraago nirodho nibbaana.m — S. I. 136, Vin. I. 5).
The two words, 'appati.t.tha.m' and 'anaayuuha.m' can thus be interpreted with reference to the four floods in their ethical, existential, metaphysical and epistemological aspects.
3. 'It is he in whom delight and existence are extinct, that does not sink in the deep' ('nandiibhava-pa.tikkhiino-so gambhiire na siidati' — Sn. V. 175).
4. The term 'braahmana' is often used as an epithet of the perfect saint, the arahant.
5. Here the text has 'parinibbuta.m' in the sense of complete extinction of the three 'fires' of lust, hatred and delusion. Though in later usage there came in a tendency to associate this word frequently with the death of an arahant, suttas frequently apply it even to the living arahant experiencing the bliss of complete emancipation. A similar tendency is evident in the usage of the term 'nirupadhi' 'without possessions or assets.' (Cf. Itiv. 46: 'Having touched with his body the Deathless-element, the 'Asset-less' and realized the abandonment of all assets, the Perfectly Awakened One, the cankerless, proclaims the sorrowless, Dustless state.')
6. Visattikaa — a synonym for craving (tanhaa) in its agglutinative aspect, which is also implicit in such expressions as 'sibbanii' (seamstress —Sn. Vv. 1040, 1042), 'lippati' ('to be smeared or soiled' — ib) and 'tatratatra-bninandini' ('finding delight now here, now there' — Vin. I. 10).