(NaturalHealth365) By climbing a mountain, many people have enjoyed life-changing experiences. Years ago, I held seminars in my home. The visitors who came found that the trek up the mountain wasn’t always easy. Trees often blocked the path; in winter it could be snowy, in spring muddy, yet folks still came.
I suppose it was in some measure the stories about what happens to a person on a quest that were so inviting. It’s certainly not unusual to travel around the world at great personal expense to arrive somewhere one believes they’ll be transformed.
What is so spiritual about climbing a mountain?
Mystic Mountain, geographically speaking, isn’t very high, but everyone who came seemed to leave that way. You see, the seminars weren’t so much about information as they were about transformation. Arriving at a place you’ve never been before often requires the help of a guide. Many times it just takes some courage and a leap of faith to begin – to candidly look at where you are and where you’d like to go.
Mountaineers and spiritual seekers have much in common. Both passionately seek the heights of human experience and are often willing to risk everything, including their lives, for them. I was recently reading about the intrepid adventurers who have climbed Mount Everest.
Many have died in their pursuit of the 29,035-foot summit: according to the Smithsonian Institution, the current count is 225, and many of their bodies still remain there. What is it that compels a person to risk life and limb for the view’s transformative effect? How rare is it to be in the company of such folks? Is there actually an underlying spiritual motivation?
Climbing to authentic spiritual heights means that one has ascended into what in climbing circles is called the “death zone.” This is the high-altitude area above 8,000 meters or 26,300 feet. In this rarified atmosphere, your body is overworked to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells. It does this at the expense of diminishing the watery part of the blood, or plasma.
Thus, the blood thickens and makes the heart work even harder. At these heights, climbers can suffer cerebral edema, where the brain swells and they may die unless they get down to a lower elevation.
How much would you risk for a truly spiritual experience?
Spiritually speaking, your heart will have to work harder if you want to climb to the heights. The death zone is where you leave the false self behind. The false self or ego with all its issues, demands, and heaviness must be transcended.
The false self must have recognition, identification, and superiority to others in order to survive, and it can’t survive in the rarified air of the climb; it needs to get to a lower elevation. The heaviness of the head must be left behind, so that the heart isn’t burdened further.
One climber was asked how it felt to climb Everest. He replied, “It’s like climbing a slope wearing roller skates and carrying a refrigerator on your back.” This is perhaps how we all have felt when looking at our own lives and seeing the challenge of complete awakening before us.
Can we really achieve spiritual enlightenment?
We begin to believe it’s only for the superhuman to accomplish. In our anguish, it’s easy to misunderstand that it’s not an accomplishment: it is a sudden recognition that dawns and allows one to stand on the summit of self-discovery. For that sudden awakening to occur, conditions must be favorable, and, in this case, it is we who control the internal weather.
With all that said, it’s easy to delude ourselves and think we’ve arrived at the peak, only to slip and fall back.
So, here I am sitting at base camp three waiting for the sky to clear. I’m ready to make the final assault. If my correspondence with you gets a bit sketchy, know I’m only packing two bottles of oxygen and traveling light.
2013 will be in large part a year of meditative seclusion. I’m thinking of how nice it will be to meet you on the mountain when I come down. Will you join me on Mount Ever Rest? Big hugs to all of you.
About the author: Pre-baby boomer Peter Ragnar has written over twenty-eights books and published courses on every aspect of personal development. He feeds the thirst for those special individuals who are on the quest for human excellence around the world. His fascinating and unique line of products, including “Magnetic Qi Gong,” can be found at: RoaringLionPublishing.com.
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