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Posts Tagged ‘insight’

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Unplugging all connections,
Unfastening all the snares,
Might we not embrace this cleaner air,
And fall?
See how tight we cling
To things
Of no consequence,
Our fingers jammed in every crack,
Our arms, oh so tired now,
And aching,
Legs, fearful, shaking.
Let it go, let it all go,
And backwards fall, and trust.
No dash of rocks, no rush
Of earth to black.
There is only this endless void, and true,
In which we might begin,
To embrace the world anew,
Then open up our Eye,
And let the clearer light, of day,
Come flooding in.

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pike o stickle

The mountain path, the lofty peak, the plucky pilgrim. It can be read as a symbolic representation of the journey to wholeness, to self discovery, to enlightenment, individuation, and any of a hundred other labels for the psychological archetype known also as the spiritual path. It’s also misleading. It suggests the way is well trodden, easily discernible, carved into the granite of the world by the passing of the millions of eager pilgrims who have gone before us. But there’s no single correct way to climb the mountain, indeed there is no single mountain to climb. Each mountain and each route is individual, personal and pathless.

And as with any pathless hill, we take our clues from the lay of the land. We skirt the danger zones, we back track if needs must, we contour, we seek shelter when the weather closes in. But each man’s mountain rises from the plain of his own being and to an altitude and of a character that provides a challenge set by the skills he alone possesses. Success or failure is determined by the will and an awareness of one’s own ability. If a man wills it, he will succeed, but then again only if he is able to recognise first the true meaning of “success”, that the summit fever of youth is as big a danger to progress as the abyss.

The summit is an illusion. I’ve often found this in the mountains, that the summit, while indicating the physical high point is not always deserving of its symbolic importance, that the character of a hill changes once we’re on it, and of the high ground the best, the most exhilarating, and the most sublime aspects are not always to be found at the top. Indeed, the top only begs the question: what next? What about that top over there? And over there? Thus the path to wholeness becomes a treadmill, a form of consumerism, when what the path should be is the way to peace.

It’s hard to find peace, so well have we covered it up with the pretence of human affairs. It’s hard even to define it. Early stages of drunkenness come close to simulating it, for at such times there seems a rightness about the world and even a crazy kind of love for it in all its shambolic glory. Other opiates of course can similarly simulate the opening of the gates, but for this feeling to endure we have to conquer the mountain of our own being. And the first step is the realisation that the summit isn’t everything, or even anything at all, that what the mountain provides us with is more the journey of our lives. And even if, after long circumambulation, we end up back down on the plains cursing our lot that we have never once reached the heights we sought, we do well to pause and think: the journey is never wasted.

We realise this perhaps only in retrospect, and after many an ignominious defeat, driven back by foul weather, and the apparent treachery of the way, that the battle is won only by its apparent loss, that we triumph by capitulation, that we succeed by the dissolution of all ambition ever to reach the top.

Peace is more a case of knowing, and we do not come to know the mountain by  the mere token of conquering its summit. Peace comes in the realisation that we are the mountain.

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