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Living Mountains and Human Spirit

March 3, 2013

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Sacred mountains, symbolizing the exaltation of divine providence, are to be found in all parts of the world. Moreover, the fusion of man and mountain into a living embodiment of truth and light as the way to knowledge of self and the universe is a fundamental belief of many extant traditions. Equally, mountains are metaphors for transcendent states of being; they are also living repositories of sacred energies and conduits of power and revelation.

Mountains occupy a prominent position in the spiritual life of prominent position in the spiritual life of innumerable cultures across the planet… For example, the thirteenth-century Japanese Zen Master and teacher Dogen tells us that “from time immemorial the mountains have been the dwelling place of the great sages; wise men and sages have all made the mountains their own chambers, their own body and mind.’ In much the same spirit, Masanobu Fukuoka believes that “Those who make use of discriminating knowledge cannot grasp the truth of [Mount Fuji]. Without the whole, the parts are lost, and without the parts, there is no whole. Both lie within the same plane… To know the real Fuji one must look at the self in relation to Fuji rather than at the mountain itself… When one’s eyes are opened by forgetting the self and becoming one with Fuji, then one will know the true form of the mountain.

The Kogi of Colombia make their home on a mountaintop and have instructions about the sacredness of the mountain world: “The Mother told us to look after all mountains. They are ceremonial houses. We know that all the mountains we see are alive. So we make offerings to them.” The Kikuyu, with more than two million members the largest tribe in Kenya, revere Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak and the heavenly abode of their Supreme Being, Ngai…

… Alfonso Ortiz,, a Native American poet and writer, turns to a Tewa expression Pin pe obi, “look to the mountaintop,” for a guiding vision of life… He conveys the potential of the summits when he recites a Tewa prayer, “Within and around the mountains, your authority returns to you.”

(McLuhan, T.C. The Way of the Earth: Encounters with Nature in Ancient and Contemporary Thought SIMON & SHUSTER 1996: 28-29)

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