Everest and Enlightenment
In a huge disaster 13 climbers have just been killed by an avalanche on Mt Everest.
What can we learn from this about enlightenment?
Everest is considered a pinnacle of achievement for people who wish to test their will, their physical and mental strength. To reach the summit gives a stamp of approval to toughness.
However in reading the comments of climbers after the disaster I see a number of basic problems being shared, that are sure to trip up those climbers later in life.
Some of the climbers are bemoaning their loss. Some left high paying jobs, spent a lot of money and time to get to the mountain and are now sore at the event.
Others gained realization about the preciousness of life, their own and the lives of others.
The climbers who are bemoaning their loss, are losing in three ways.
Firstly they are clinging on the past, wanting an outcome that is not possible, and therefore upset.
Secondly they are reinforcing a habit of seeing the world through the lens of “bad things happen to me” instead of “A happening has happened, let me be with it.”
Thirdly they have not been able to take advantage of the learning and discovery that is available to us in each event in our lives to grow richer in love and joy.
The winners from any situation are the ones who walk away with love and joy in their hearts.
Having been a guide on Everest, with 6 clients who want to reach the summit, I know firsthand the mental challenges that are presented to each climber. I also know that it is quite possible to keep and even foster a strong drive to succeed while not being upset about the inevitable changes that happen to plans in high mountain environments.
When a sudden weather window of opportunity opens up you have to be able to go for it at full intensity, with all guns blazing as you focus on the next moves. A sudden storm can appear and wreck any plans. You are then required to move into complete relaxation, readjust and transfer the joy of action into the joy of inaction!
The more we can move fluidly from one situation to another with grace and ease, the more joy there is in every moment, and this then is enlightenment expressing itself through us. Mountaineering is a beautiful spiritual practice when this is the goal of the activity.
The thing is with high wild mountain environment, just as in life, you either learn to flow or you suffer.
The intense diversity and rapid changeability of the mountain environment really provides an even more in your face proving ground for higher consciousness.
The enlightened response is always to be at ease with what is happening, even being in an avalanche! You can be at ease while moving to get out of the avalanche