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Thursday, 10 March 2016

When Man Meets Mountain

I'm going to be a mountain someday, collecting crystals from the heaven and dispersing them to thirsty fields, tilled by hardworking humans. I will be a mountain, firm and humble. I will urge the brave to look up and rise above the banality and hostile indifference. The memory of the white of the snow peaks at a distance holds me rapt. I'm going to be a mountain someday... for this I rise up.

Back from the foothills of Himalayas, nestled among the Kumaon hills is Almora - a rustic district comprising of breathtaking views of a landscape not seen anywhere else in the world - am at a loss for words. The trip served as an appetiser to a main course of deeper subjects I wasn't aware I was seeking.

8 lessons I learned while standing face to face with the mountains of Uttarakhand:

1. Meditation: People seeking spiritual strength have long looked to the mountains to be inspired in their prayers and meditations. So did I. And glad it was found. Long, blue, spiky-edged shadows crept out across the snow-fields, while a rosy glow gradually deepened and diffused every mountain-top in a new hue that crept down to its foothills. This was the Himalayan glow, to me the most impressive of all the terrestrial manifestations witnessed so far. At the touch of the morning light, the mountains seemed to kindle consciousness. The peaks stood silent and devout like worshippers waiting to be blessed.

2. Gratitude: Dear mountain, we take the world for granted, please accept my apologies. We take you for granted for your gracious gifts that we do not earn, for the daily strokes of luck that we do not merit. Please accept my confession as we acknowledge our self-absorption nowadays through our cell phones, our short-sightedness; our failure to care for all creation. I can already hear the rivers clap their hands as the mountains echo - Amen.

3. Humility: The mountains and its rocks, rivers and valleys, animals and plants forgive us our devotion to greed, destruction, and selfishness so that we might be freed to truly see the other as ourselves and hold the care. The mountains are never tired of seeing us standing in admiration. These mountains have seen untold sunrises, they don't long for anything. They stand silent watching man's weak praise.

4. Faith: All you need is faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move the mountain. You can climb high up there and wonder how you made it.  When faced with a mountain, you can also choose to see several options. You can climb it and cross to the other side. You can dig or blow it up. You can turn around and go back the way you came. Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home. Or you can pretend it's not there... like you never saw one. But that is just not possible after all the faith it brims you up with.

5. Time: The greatest gift of life is time. Time to think or not think - to sleep or take a walk in the woods or to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. While sitting idle I produced nothing. Not even words. I realised time is just as stretchable as we can imagine it. By being utterly useless in the calculations of time while stuck in a zone that demanded never looking at time I became useful, at last, to myself.

6. Rejuvenation: Reaching the destination was a high task. Ravaged by motion sickness, I finally reached there. Almost limping out of our SUV as a new born calf. But this lasted no more after my eyes wandered high and higher still - far somewhere - completely spellbound. The two peaks of Himalayas from the Him Darshan point held me looking up. Never once did I think I should also capture this magnificence in my camera. A new numbness of a good sort enveloped me like as the nip in the air comforted the aches of low oxygen brain. The mountain has left me feeling renewed, more content and positive than I've been. Something has been given back after a long absence. I've let myself be rooted in this unshakable sanity of the senses as I spared my mind the burden of too much thinking. My outward experience translated inward - to savour the pleasures of being me.

7. Strength: I am tempted to answer. But they are offering me a free dwelling without having to conquer anything. The difficult path and its slippery bend - I cannot choose both but I have a choice to make. This will determine my fate. I choose. I choose the mountain. Because only by climbing can I rise above the plane of stress and strain. I simply choose the mountain as I will never stop climbing. This is a promise.

8. Charity: One foot in front of the other, keep walking with your eyes focused on the mountain. Rest your heart on the much around you... on the blade of the grass that sways to show you the direction of the wind or the cloud that moves to others to conspire a sudden burst of shower on you. Just keep walking towards that mountain. Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it. This joy has the power to give up the apex to those who cannot see this far.

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