Master Jingzong; English translation by Foyuan, edited by Fojin
A tall mountain can elevate a person high above sea level, but it can’t get him off the ground, even by a fraction. Knowledge, erudition, virtue and spiritual practice can earn a person great fame and much respect from others, but these things can do nothing to liberate him from the endless cycle of rebirth.
Whether you are on a mountain top or in a valley, your feet are still on the ground. The most virtuous and the most iniquitous persons in the world are in similar places.
You have reached the mountain top after a great deal of hard work, feeling smug because you are on much higher terrain than others, but in fact you are still on the ground. Those who rely on self-power practices can never reach the Pure Land because the mountain of those flawed practices, however tall, cannot lift them into space.
Which way is more convenient and less arduous – to board a plane after climbing some 4,000 to 5,000 meters up to a hilltop, or to do so on level ground at the foot of the hill? Will you necessarily fly higher, farther and safer by doing it the former way? Those who undertake the meditative and non-meditative practices through their own efforts (self-power) ultimately still have to rely on the power of Amitabha (other-power) in order to be reborn in the Pure Land. This is akin to boarding the plane after a laborious climb to the top of the mountain. However, many of us can never make it to the mountain top. Why not start reciting Amitabha’s name whole-heartedly at once – and board the plane at ground level?