[copyright 2000 by Richard Andrew King - All Rights Reserved]
There are three things to know about climbing the Mountain. First, it is never crowded on the top of the Mountain. Second, it is very difficult to climb the Mountain, which is why it is never crowded. Third, there is, as Saints and Mystics tell us, a secret doorway at the top of the Mountain leading to a secret passageway to the inner worlds, His World. If we can climb the Mountain, we have the opportunity to knock at that secret door and gain entrance to His Divine Reality. That is the promise of spiritual scripture.
Christ talks about this Mountain all the time, as do all Saints and Mystics. As we know from Biblical reference, Jesus 'ascended the mountain' several times a day. Obviously, this could not have been a physical mountain because he would have had to spend the whole of his time going to, up, down and back from the mountain. He wouldn't have had the time to do anything else. Too, he would have been physically exhausted! Just imagine the task in walking to a mountain, climbing up the thing, staying there a while, walking back down the mountain and then continuing to walk back home three times a day or more! It's logically impractical and makes no sense.
Thus, we can conclude the mountain Christ ascended was not a physical mountain but a spiritual mountain, the Mountain of Divine Consciousness which one ascends through concentration on the Word of God. As Christ said, "the kingdom of God is within you" (St. Luke 17:21). Rising 'in' to be with Him - that's Climbing the Mountain.
Returning to our first statement, it's never crowded on the Mountain. Why? Because most people are satisfied with living on the Valley Floor below at the base of the Mountain. The Mountain is there, always there, but few are they that challenge it. The Valley Floor is familiar, comfortable, secure, filled with people, things, activities, delights - you name it, it's there. It's also comfortable to be with lots of other people. Too, it is warmer and more inviting on the Valley Floor, and. . . the effort of the climb up the Mountain simply involves too much stress, hardship and discomfort for comfort-driven souls.
The Mountain is severe. It's steep, slick, cold, uninviting, unfamiliar. Just its overwhelming austere presence is enough to frighten most people away. It takes a great deal of courage to even think of climbing the Mountain, not to mention the energy and time involved in its ascent. Furthermore, those who successfully climb it strangely never come back, which frightens most of the Valley Floor residents. Why go to all that trouble and endure the hardship of a dangerous and difficult climb and never be heard from again? Why leave one's friends, attachments, activities, comforts, securities and familiarities of the Valley Floor anyway? Doesn't make much sense, right?
Well, the reason a few people leave the comfort and security of the Valley
Floor and make the arduous journey up the Mountain is because they have
heard the rumors of the secret doorway leading to the secret passageway,
leading to the Inner Worlds, leading to eternal freedom for the soul from
the binding and incarcerating environment of the Valley Floor below inclusive
of its so called comforts and securities. There is a spiritual mystery
about the Mountain which spiritually 'touched' souls cannot resist.
Although few in number, they are the ones who climb. They are the
ones who risk. They are the ones who leave the comfort, security
and familiarity of the Valley Floor below to pursue a spiritual fascination.
They are the ones who struggle, endure untold privations and hardships
and. . . they are the ones who succeed in getting to the top of the Mountain
and entering the secret door leading to the secret passageway leading to
their ultimate spiritual freedom and soul liberation from the confines
of this dimension.
Why does a person climb the Mountain? Because he feels a pull from It, an irresistible, compelling force - a magical, mystical, mysterious, marvelous magnetism that keeps drawing, ever drawing, his attention inward, upward, onward. Most of the time the pull is inexplicable. It is certainly invisible. It's just there, always there, tugging at the heartstrings of the soul, the conscience, the consciousness. If one tries to pull away, the force pulls harder in return, always redirecting the focus of the attention to the Mountain, to its austerity, to its overpowering and omnipotent majesty and mystery. Helpless is the soul to avoid it. Helpless is the soul to explain it. Helpless is the soul to fight it. Helpless is the soul, helpless, and so it looks at the mountain with awe and longing, even fear and apprehension, but, still, it begins to climb, to ascend, to escape, to be free from the prison that is the Valley Floor below.
The soul begins its journey, its climb, irresistibly and helplessly, unknowing of what lies ahead. But it doesn't care. The compulsion is almost an insanity in itself. It is as if the soul were injected with some numinous nepenthe, a spiritual potion inducing the soul to forget and let go of its life on the Valley Floor and climb, climb into some unknown territory, some uncharted ground, holy ground, that will satisfy its eternal longing for eternal peace.
The soul soon learns that this is a solo climb. No holding hands here unless it is the Hand of God. No traveling buddies. No companions. No partners. The soul goes alone, ever pulled by the sweet magnetism of the mellifluous melodies within. Up it goes, step after step, falling, stumbling, sliding back a little but regaining its stability and composure and pressing on. It is a snail's pace this climb. Yet, with every micro inch of elevation gained, a whole new reality is gained, a whole new panorama, a whole new consciousness.
"If this is what is gained only after a tiny distance," asks the soul,
"what will I experience if I climb some more?" And so the soul pushes
on, ever on. It is addicted to the climb because the climb brings
heretofore unknown perceptions and understandings it did not nor could
have possessed while living on the Valley Floor below because it just wasn't
high enough to see. Its vision was limited, extremely limited, as
only its current experience can verify. In fact, the soul learns
that, for all intents and purposes, it was, indeed, blind while living
on the Valley Floor. It only knows this because now, because of its
climb, because of its acquired elevation, it sees and sees clearly everything
below it. But it doesn't see all because it has not ascended to the
top of the Mountain, but it wants to see so it presses on. . . and on.
. . and on - another step, another stumble, another slip, another slide
but, yet, another reconviction to stay strong and press on.
It is not long into the journey up the Mountain that the soul learns this is a sacrificial climb. In other words, there are sacrifices, major sacrifices, to be made and sustained if one is to be successful in the ascent and reach the top of the Mountain, reach the secret door leading to the secret passageway, leading to the Inner Worlds. The soul learns that just as the greatest gift exacts the greatest price, so the greatest accomplishment exacts the greatest sacrifice.
Sacrifice means to surrender, to give up, to forego, to deny. By its very nature sacrifice, therefore, involves loss, but loss in exchange for something else. What is that loss? What is that 'something else'? For the spiritually driven soul, the loss is life within the Valley Floor. The 'something else' is eternal life within His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
Ravidas, a Saint of the 15th/16th Centuries exclaimed,
not my love for the Lord ever decrease.
Dearly have I bought it in exchange for my life."
He understood, and understood exceedingly well, the cost of climbing the Mountain. He gave up his life to seek His Life. He sacrificed his worldly life to gain eternal life with the Lord. This is the great accomplishment. But this accomplishment also, therefore, demands the greatest price and, in this case, it is the releasing, the sacrificing of one's worldly attachment.
Ravidas also stated:
myriads of births have I been separated
from Thee, O Lord.
This birth is dedicated to Thee."
Here Ravidas references the Law of Transmigration involving the reincarnation of his soul in a myriad of births in which he led his life in every which way but that of the Lord. However, in his sojourn as a wandering soul through countless lives, Ravidas finally came to understand there is no greater achievement than to live for the Lord, to climb the Mountain and Merge in Him, which is why he made the above statement of dedicating his life to God.
Every Mountain Climber must do the same thing - dedicate his life to the Lord. It is the only way up the Mountain because, in reality, the Lord is the Mountain. Does this mean one has to turn his back on the world? Well, yes. When we climb up a mountain, any mountain, is not our back turned toward the valley floor below? Is not our focus directed forward to each step in the climb? To go forward means we look forward and climb forward. If we were to look back, we would most definitely fall because we would not be able to see each and every foothold, every handhold, and we would, sooner or later, lose our step, our grip and fall.
However, does climbing the Mountain mean we turn our back on our worldly duties and responsibilities? Absolutely not. Just the opposite. To climb the Mountain we do not run away to a mountain and become a recluse. The mystical and marvelous reality about the Climb is that the Mountain is within us; the Climb, therefore, is within us. We stay right where we are. The Mountain Climb is a climb in consciousness. It is not a physical climb. Therefore, we climb by purifying our consciousness while discharging our duties and responsibilities in the world to family, friends and occupation.
Furthermore, this discharging of our worldly duties and obligations is
not sterile. It is an ever growing process which involves ever-increasing
levels of being extremely loving, kind, warm, compassionate and heartfelt.
The Climb, because it takes us 'higher', gives us higher values, higher
principles, higher levels of understanding of life, love and light, all
of which affect the way and manner in which we deal with the people, responsibilities
and events in our personal lives.
When the soul first feels the pangs of the pull from the Mountain, there is often the possibility of a mis-read and a subsequent mis-focus of the energy. The Mountain is pure spirit and, therefore, when we feel it, we also want to express that pure spirit. The mis-read is that we think we have to change the people, conditions and circumstances in the Valley Floor and that, somehow, if we can make it pure and good, all will be good, we will be good and happy. The Valley Floor will then be a wonderful place in which to live and we would have built a paradise on earth.
However, that is not the purpose of the pull. The pull is designed to pull each of us to a higher spiritual level individually, not collectively, nor change the environment of the Valley Floor. After all, every mountain needs its valley floor, has a valley floor. It's part of the divine design of creation. Without the valley floor, the mountain could not exist.
Furthermore, mystics tell us that the Valley Floor (the world) will always be the Valley Floor. It will never be paradise. That's precisely why mystics come to the Valley Floor - to take souls up the Mountain, to guide them Home to Paradise.
If God wanted to change the Valley Floor or the conditions within it, or its inhabitants, He could do so in a nano flash. This is all God's creation and He does with it as He pleases. He is, after all, omnipotent. Every soul belongs to him and He takes care of each soul as He thinks best.
The Valley Floor is not supposed to be changed because it is a proving ground for the soul, a furnace through which the soul is purified and cleansed before it makes its ascent. Not all souls ascend the Mountain at the same time. If they did, there would be no Valley Floor and this creation could not exist.
Therefore, when each of us feels the pull, our task is not to direct the energy outward in an attempt to change the Valley Floor but to direct our attention inward where the ascent occurs, i.e., within ourselves. Ironically, if we change for the positive, then the environment of the Valley Floor will also change for the positive to the degree of one soul better.
Besides, in consideration of changing the Valley Floor, how difficult a task is it? How hard is it to change ourselves, let alone change others or the entire Valley Floor? It's always easier to try to change others because it directs the focus of our cleansing and purification away from us and, of course, none of us needs cleansing, right?
Thus, if we mis-read the energy pull of the Mountain, we will naturally
mis-focus, mis-direct our attention which must not be on others or the
other world of the Valley Floor, but on us, in us. The climb is a
solo climb remember, and although it may be our time to climb, it may not
be someone else's time to climb. Therefore, let us not mis-read the
pull lest we mis-direct our focus which is to get up the Mountain for ourselves.
A mis-read and a subsequent mis-focus will only thwart our progress and
ultimate success. When we finally make it up the Mountain, when we
have the experience of getting to the top and discovering what waits for
us there, then we can share with others what we've discovered, if they
are amenable to listening.
When we do begin our ascent of the Mountain, will there be stress in the climb? You bet! Tons of it! Don't be deceived. Expect it. Climbing is never an easy experience, especially over personally uncharted ground. Just as climbing a physical mountain is strenuous, so is climbing the spiritual Mountain.
When we ascend any mountain, we are always working against the pull of gravity which weights us down and forces us to work to climb higher. It's exhausting. When we climb the spiritual Mountain, we must work against the pull of the mass consciousness and its natural gravity. With every step we take, we will feel the downward pull. Thus, we must fight and work hard to ascend.
As we climb the Mountain, we will have to deal with the weight we carry on our own backs, the karmic load we've accumulated throughout our existence on the Valley Floor. We may also have issues with our own feelings, attitudes and beliefs. Attachments and desires of and possibly for the Valley Floor below may be concerns inhibiting our own focus as we climb. Memories of pleasant times below may crop up as the stress of the climb manifests itself in greater degrees. This may, likewise, tend to affect us negatively.
However, if we're meant to climb, we will. The upward pull will be stronger than its downward counterpart and we will climb. The higher we climb, the more detached will the Valley Floor become until, because of our own height in the ascent, it is virtually invisible below. It is just like being in an airplane. When it's on the ground, we can see everything on the ground. However, when it is in a higher altitude, people, activities and objects on the Valley Floor below become virtually non-existent to the eye. So it is with the spiritual ascent. When we get high enough, we will become oblivious of that which is below and it will be of no concern. Out of sight, out of mind.
It will, of course, take time and effort before we reach such a stage. Until we get there, we must endure the stress of the climb. It is a natural aspect of ascent, however unpleasant; but it must be endured. As muscles grow under the stress of physical weight training, so our spiritual muscles grow under the stress of spiritual training. As they become stronger, so do we and we press forward with greater ease, skill and comfort.
Therefore, the message regarding the stress of the climb is that we must
embrace it, accept it. It is a natural part of the process of ascent
and it will not go away. We just have to be disciplined and focused
in our work, the work of climbing, of ascending, not descending.
There is an enigma in climbing the Mountain and it is this: we have to climb it while residing within the Valley Floor. The climb, as we have said, is one of consciousness, not physicality. Therefore, we have to constantly be purifying our consciousness as we physically live and exist in the Valley Floor. On the outside, our physical appearance may not change. However, on the inside, appearances and realities will change drastically.
Climbing the Mountain creates a whole new reality which also changes with each step up the Mountain we make. Thus, our perceptions of the Valley Floor, its inhabitants, activities, environment, conditions, purpose, etc. etc. will also change - from the inside out. As our perceptions change, so will our understanding of life and its concomitant goals, drives and desires.
This enigma is why mystics tell us to live in the Valley Floor but not
to become a part of it. In fact, the admonition is: just live in
it but get out of it! This won't make much sense until we start climbing,
and then it will make total sense. . . to us but not to others. In
order to understand what it's like to be on the Mountain, one has
to climb it. There is just no other way to understand. Experience
is the best teacher, and when we get on the Mountain and involved with
its ascent, we will then know what the Mountain holds and what the Mountain
is; why it is difficult to conquer the Mountain and why, unmistakably why,
it is such a critical necessity that we do so and do it now . . . while we still have the chance!