The Teaching of the Great Mountain

A Mountain in Alaska Directs the Mind Towards Selflessness

Photo and Quote from the New Book Moved by a Mountain.

A Mountain Can Have a Profound Effect on our Consciousness.

This excerpt from Moved by a Mountain:


Imagine that you have arrived in a mountainous area during a storm, when thick, dark, low clouds have been pressing down on the earth, preventing any view of the mountains. After a day or two, the rain stops and the clouds begin to thin and brighten. You begin to feel the invisible sun’s warmth on your face. A patch of blue sky is revealed here and there. Then, you turn your head, and are awestruck at the sight of an alpine crest, appearing through a hole in the clouds, far above. Its beauty has a theatrical quality, as when a curtain is lifted to reveal a carefully planned stage.


This can be one of the most powerful visions in the mountains. Perhaps in part because of the conflicting images: an immense mass of rock floating in the sky, defying the laws of Nature. The scene could evoke archetypes of, or deep mental associations with, the supernatural–deities or angels, or God. Maybe the intensity of the experience is partially due to the element of surprise: the shock of the unexpected perspective, and the sudden onset of awe.

No matter what the psychological mechanism, that awe is a signal to us, a communication from the Field of Consciousness, reminding us to see past our habitual thought processes, those rooted in a world-view of our own fabrication.


There is a traditional Zen statement that can be translated as, “Clouds leave, blue mountain appears.” Seeing the mountain is a metaphor for the experience of spiritual insight. Suddenly we realize that we have been living in the cloud of our own mental construct, our fantasy of reality, and our concept of self. The truth has been there all along, eternally, but we’ve been trapped behind a veil of mist, unable to see.

The mountains and the clouds conspire to express what it is we need to know; our need to know it is revealed by our immediate and profound response.


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November 2012
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