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Taken from www.dailyzen.com

Climbing a Mountain, Crossing a River

by Liu I-ming

(from Awakening to the Tao, translated from the Chinese by Thomas Cleary (1988))

When you climb a mountain, you put forth effort with every step, not resting until you reach the summit. When you cross a river you take care with every step, not relaxing your attention until you reach the other shore. Even if you have climbed a mountain nearly to the summit, if you leave off that last step to rest your feet, you are still on the way, not yet there. Even if you have crossed a river nearly to the other shore, if you take a single careless step, there is still danger.

What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of physical effort to carry out the Way.

The Great Way is hard to know, so you are lucky if you come across it and know about it, and your efforts should be to really put it into practice, to actually tread the Way to its completion, thereby repaying your debt to whoever taught you about it.

Do not let a little bewilderment make you change your mind, do not let a little experience of its effect induce you to relax your work. Do not let a little material hardship divide your mind, do not be discouraged that your strength is insufficient. Do not have false imaginings about attainment of the Great Way, do not fear that the road is long. Keep going with steadfast determination, keeping your attention on the Way, going straight forward, and naturally a day will come when you arrive.

This is like putting out effort every step of the way when climbing a mountain, finally to reach the summit; like paying attention every step of the way when crossing a river, finally to reach the other shore.