Up to the Summit
A mountain is a universal, spiritual symbol, just like light. It implies many aspects of existence. Temples and churches have mountain or hill-shaped domes and steeples. Sometimes the entire structure is built like a mountain. The visual of an unshakeable mountain, the rock of ages, intuitively signifies stability and security. It is simultaneously the mount of aspiration and inspiration. Reaching the high and distant summit, not always visible or clear, requires a great deal of faith with the self. The hard and harsh climb demands discipline, fortitude, and unwavering persistence.
A mountain is a metaphor for living. At the base there is earth-bound life. The routine of daily life can keep us tethered, circling around repetitively around the base. To climb up, what is bound to the earth must be left behind. Going up, there is increasingly less human activity, fewer forms and objects. Even the air is less dense. We reflect our surroundings (and vice versa), beginning to identify less with objects and related activities. There is greater perception of nature and its tremendous force as well as our own vulnerability. That chips away pride. The tiny, frail body is literally and figuratively surrounded by infinite, unobstructed space. We climb out of ourselves, the confines of body-mind.
The higher we climb, the more arduous is the way to the summit, and the more we are compelled to shed and discard. There can be no other thought than being alert and attentive to every step, every breath. At the top we get a physical and spiritual perspective as we view existence from a higher altitude. The air is more charged, crisp, clear.
We are uplifted from the numbness of daily existence but we must overcome our numerous fears and doubts. The process of getting up there is transformational. It can also be called meditation. Mount Kailash is Mount Meru within, the spinal cord within the body. We climb from the base of the spine, the earth-bound center of mooladhara chakra, to the summit, the heaven-bound center of ajna chakra, the guru center, with its trigger at the eyebrow center. Ajna is also known as the point of intuition and inner perception. We climb to the summit to get an experience of "Who am I?" So this is a meditation on faith, inner strength, and inner guidance.
It is being offered in celebration of Guru Purnima. We all successively build upon the base given to us. This meditation builds upon what we have received.
In this meditation, we begin shedding some of the conditioned programming. We learn to discard excess baggage that weighs us down and prevents us from getting where we need to go. The visualization of climbing to the summit, top of the mountain, and the inner guide part is based on a Yoga Nidra done 30 years ago during a course in Mumbai with Swami Buddhananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga. Over the course of the years, like an evolving recipe, our interpretation and wording of it has also evolved. This is our version, which too will change over the course of time.