Few among humans are those who reach the farther shore: the other people here run along this shore.
— Dhammapada 85
Crossing to the other shore is a transcendent accomplishment which reaches the unconditioned, namely, nirvana. There is no real body of water that anyone crosses. This seems obvious. The ocean that we view from this shore which is conditioned reality, is the ocean of samsara in which beings are continually reborn and die again. If we wish to cross it, we cannot do so by means of a horizontal route which would lead us to still more cycles of birth and death. The crossing has to be vertical crossing. But the vertical method is always the mystical path. Our ordinary mind, however, contains both a horizontal and a vertical path. There is both the conventional, that veils the mystical, and the mystical that is paramartha which is of a transcendent character.
Those who hear no inner calling from the beyond summoning them to cross to the other shore; who are content to run along this shore, are repeatedly doomed to undergo samsara, passing from one conditioned from of existence to another without any break. This can only be called the sin of ignorance; that while suffering, one does not care to escape the very conditions which make samsara possible. Such a mind is thirsting for the material. It believes that, some how, it will find fulfillment by feeding the senses. It doesn’t care that this is a delusion; that at no time in the history of mankind has anyone become fulfilled by the acquisition of sensory materials.
The wiser among mankind are fewer. When they look within, they see another side of mind the appetitive person doesn’t see. They can see the ocean they must cross where the ocean ends and the shore of nirvana begins. The also have the courage to leave the common quay. They have a heaven soaring spirit which is not content to stay here, in this barren shore of birth and death.