Some months ago I watched a movie called Into Thin Air, then I felt compelled to read the book and get every detail of that interesting, amazing, shocking story.
This led me to contemplate why people would go to all that trouble with a 25% chance of dying just to climb to the top of a mountain. At first, I didn’t get it.
There are some shocking parts of the story where, in order to get to the top of the mountain, some people literally walk over other people who have collapsed on the trail and are almost dead. The success of some is jeopardized if they don’t leave those other people to die.
Considering all the effort they had made thus far to reach the top of Everest the other fallen and dying people, it seemed, were not worth trying to save. Perhaps it was so. But I thought about the whole thing a lot and shake my head, partially at my own lack of ability to totally understand and partially in amazement that maybe/probably I do understand. Into Thin Air is a story of people striving externally for a pinnacle of outer achievement.
Different Paths with Same Intent
Then somewhat synchronistically I just happened to read next a book by Vicki MacKenzie called Cave in the Snow. It is the biography of Tenzin Palmo, an Englishwoman become Buddhist nun who spends 12 years in a cave, alone, high in the Himalayas of Tibet, trying through meditation, silence and contemplation to achieve enlightenment, or the highest pinnacle of inner life. Like Into Thin Air this book is an amazing tale of human endeavour, strength and courage – one big difference, obviously, is these various people were seeking their goals in opposite directions.
Those mountain climbers probably have inadvertently done some soul searching as a result of their adventures and they have no doubt taught anyone who hears their story something about the meaning of life.
Tenzin Palmo came out of her cave after 12 years and has toured the world teaching Buddhist philosophy and meditation. She is a source of great inspiration to spiritual seekers, especially women, around the world.
Seeking Answers to the Meaning of Life
Ten years ago when people came into our bookstore looking for ways to increase their happiness, searching for ways to reduce their stress or looking for the answers to the meaning of life if we suggested learning to meditate, many people didn’t even want to hear the word “meditate.”
I think they feared some punitive God was about to smite them or that it meant joining a weird cult. At that time it seemed guided visualizations and herbal teas were radical enough ideas for stress reduction or aids to personal peace and happiness.
But today (for a variety of reasons), on a daily basis we experience people asking for books and tapes to learn to meditate. There are many quality materials available now to assist any temperament wishing to learn this ancient practice.
People seem to have a greater awareness that nothing in the outer world will give lasting peace.
Inner Space is Always There
It is through the exploration of inner space that all stress can be relieved, all anxiety removed, all peace found, all answers given. It may be quite hard to conceive this as being true and hard to just believe that our inner being, our inner space is always full of bliss and nothing but bliss.
The inner treasures are like the Tolstoy story of the beggar sitting on the gold. After he lived a life in abject poverty, they dug up his hovel and found immense wealth.
Since our inner world is always there, it is just a question of going in there, finding it, just being in that space.
What we all want is so close and yet may seem as difficult as climbing the highest mountain in the world to experience those inner treasures.
Perhaps I can’t really make any comments about the rewards of climbing Everest but I have been meditating for many years and I can say that the inner landscape is worth exploring. There are delicious fruits on my inner trees and the Truth is not “out there” but “in here”…