I’m climbing the Spiritual mountain. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. Each step though is my step. Each handhold is mine also. Sometimes I stumble. Sometimes I go backward. On really hard parts of the path I take two steps forward but go one step back. How I envy the mountain goat that can jump and leap and dodge these rocks and stones with nary a miss.
Along the way I have help. Some of it is very good but some of it is suspect.
After trudging for a whole day I come to an overlook and I am immediately in awe of the view. The horizon recedes in various degrees on mountains, lakes, trees, birds, and other natural beauty. I sit down and try to take it all in. Everywhere I look is another new and amazing sight. I see a taller tree, a prettier bird, a clearer lake and a bluer sky. After a great while I pick up and begin anew on the spiritual path. I realize that I found this path as a trail from the my main path. It’s a path that I feel intuitively. In the weeks ahead I come across many sideline and divergent paths that lead to beautiful little nooks, and crannies, and grand vistas of awe inspiring beauty. I also find little shrines, and temples and synagogues. I find chapels and churches and Grand Cathedrals of Holiness. Each holds me in a transfixed state and I am hushed to humility and quietness.
Eventually I make my way back to the my true path and I realize that I have only been going around the mountain. In short, I’ve made almost no vertical ascent. I can see that I should stay mostly on my path and eschew these sideline trails and paths. As wonderful and as holy as these places are, I realize that they don’t really lead me anywhere. I resolve to be more steadfast to an ever upward spiritual ascent. If I come to a beautiful spot or a supposed Holy Ground, I recognise it but move on. To stay at these places is a dead-end. I begin again.
I come to a landing that has many, many books. The books appear as bibles, religious text, sacred writings, and ancient scrolls from all of the world’s religions. I quickly recognise and pick up the main book from my geographic background and upbringing. I peruse through it and like what I see.
I start to follow it’s teachings again and it’s like a map that leads higher and higher up in the mountain. I’m starting to feel like I’m making headway and that the summit is near. I come upon a winding stream with big canopy trees and foliage. My path leads right through it and I’m coming to a corner of the path to turn through. As I turn the corner I am amazed at what I find. I’m back where I started. I’m again at the landing with all the religious books and texts. “How did I get here,” I think to myself. I sit down and ponder my situation. I look at my book and find that it’s old and tattered. It looks different now. What initially appeared as an Authoritative guide has now turned to a useless book. I quickly look at all the other books and texts and realize that they are old and tattered also. I open another different book and look for the path given by that book and realize, “It’s the same path I just took.” It slowly starts to sink in, “All of these books are just books and they all lead back to the same landing.” Finally, I abandon the books and make my way for the path out of these woods and up the mountain again. I realize after much thought that there are no sacred texts that are more important then a real reunion with God. I begin again.
As I ascend the path a brilliant light appears ahead of me at about a 45 degree angle. I have to arch my neck up just to see it. The light is emanating from some person. I can only barely see through the light that someone is ahead of me. He has his hands folded in front and is sitting in the lotus position. I call out to them, “Hey, who are you?” From the ledge a considerable distance above me a serene but authoritative voice answers, “It is me, your Teacher. I’ve been sitting here waiting for you.” I become very excited because I’ve been looking for someone to show me the way. It’s such a difficult journey and frequently I feel that I need all the help I can get. The Teacher starts advising me on how to ascend to his platform. The path starts to become easier for it has obviously been walked on by others before me. The Teacher keeps beckoning for me to hurry to him.
I’m getting excited because I’m halfway there and then I hear a voice from my immediate right about 30 feet away. “Hey you. Where are you going?” Another man is on an adjacent path but it doesn’t appear to be connected to mine. “I’m going to meet my teacher. I’m following the light that emanates from his being,” I say. He calls to me to stop a minute. “Please take another look for me will you. I’m trying to find God and I’m wondering if you can see his face? Is the light coming from his face?” I can’t really figure out what he’s asking me but I look again and realize that I can’t see his face. I see an aura of light emanating all around his head but I can’t see his face. I look at the sideline climber again and say, “No, I can’t see his face. What does that mean?” My adjacent climber friend shakes his head and says, “The light you see of the supposed leader is just a silhouette. He’s standing in the path of the light of God and you’ve temporarily mistaken it for God.” I look again really hard and I realize now that my friend is right. I can’t ever actually see the teachers’ face even thought the aura of light is all around him. I’m stunned and realize that another illusion has interrupted my path.
I sit down and try to take it all in. My adjacent climber friend has stopped also. I look over to my friend and he sees my disappointment. He calls across from our divided paths, “The Teacher, he’s not much farther along than you. He’s not at the top and he’s not cresting the horizon. If it was really Gods face, you would see his face and the light would emanate from his face.” I nod my head and look up the mountain again to the supposed teacher. I turn and look again at my friend. He calls to me and says, “The Teacher is probably on his own singular ledge. The path that leads to him is just a path to him. He means well but has essentially stopped his ascent.”
As I regain my orientation I finally call back to my friend, “Hey friend, you were right. I can see that you are on the right path so is it OK if I tag along with you?” He just looks a me with big sorrowful eyes. Finally his gaze meets mine directly and he says, “No. My path is mine and yours is yours. Each of us has an absolute singular path. Each of us must follow that same path back. When we left God we each left by ourselves. Some ran down the mountain, some rolled down the mountain and some of us, like a big lazy river, just meandered down the mountain. I happened to have JUMPED from the mountain and that’s why you see me now climbing the face of the mountain. Follow your intuition and you’ll find your path. Again, some of us jumped off the precipice and now we have to climb the face of it back up. Your intuition will tell you your path because you’ll remember it as the path you took coming down.” Before I could beg, plead or debate it with him he takes off and leaves me to my own thoughts.
I rested awhile and reviewed my friend’s words. As I eventually start treading up the mountain again I realize that he was right. If I jumped off the precipice, I have to climb it. To follow him is just a lateral move. The energy, time and space is exactly the same as pushing forward up the side of the mountain. I can see now that some people can just walk up the mountain but some people must straddle the face of a cliff.
As I come even with the teacher I can see that from his position that no path upwards exist. The only path is the one I was on and that only leads to him. I look along that path now and can see one person descending the trail to make it back to their own path. Frequently those leaders will make their encampment on an adjacent ledge and proceed for a long time to regale themselves with their following and congratulating themselves with their level of attainment. I realize that someday that teacher will descend his own path down and renew his real path upwards. More importantly he will make his path alone.
I can’t pass any judgement because from this height I can see that my own trail has ebbed and flowed, descending and then ascending again like waves. There are no books, places, or people that encapsulate God. They are really just reflections. I rest awhile….and then I begin again.
“We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes.”