The art of looking around

Life seems a climb up a mountain. We strive for the next level, the next plateau that may offer us a bit of rest. We pitch our tents, and then the next day we head upwards once more. Some move slowly and choose paths that are more horizontal, so they rarely get up very high. Others wish to move quickly so they find the steepest inclines and by way of ropes and picks escalate the sheer rock face. The latter is obviously more perilous and offers many dangers to the one who rushes up. The reason for taking this risk and rushing up the mountain is simply, we wish to get to the top. Because at the top we can see it all. As long as we’re going up, then we know we’ll get to a point where it will all become clear to us. We can see the valleys, the mountains – everything. At one point we can take in the full meaning of it all as it unfolds before us as a landscape stretching in all directions. We understand how the valleys are simply the spaces between the mountains, and we see that the mountains are just spaces between the valleys. There is no need for knowing anything here, because at the top we can see it all, and so we may understand our own place. The problem is that our society tells us this, our elders, our spiritual guides. We are told to go to the top, become better, richer, more enlightened and many other things. Some even tell us to think less, and thinking less becomes another part of the mountain. The mountain we are climbing is one of security, we seek to feel safe and comfortable. But we do not understand the act of looking around once we feel safe and comfortable. In many ways we overshoot the top of the mountain, and go into a valley just to find a higher mountain, one that provides more safety and more security. So we plunge through a valley of depression because we notice that money wasn’t it. Then once we find love, we overshoot that peak also, and think that love wan’t it. Then we find spirituality or religion or science, and instead of stopping at the top we continue over the peak, rushing forward at such speed that we do not notice the security and safety we are in, and so we become confused. What is then it. We search for another sheer rock face, and choose the most daunting one we can find. Physical fitness, spirituality, love, sex, wealth, hedonism and still none of the peaks are it. So we find ourselves rummaging around in the valley, what about pain, loneliness, abstinence, coldness, anger is that it? but we know it is not.

There is an art that is different from climbing the mountains to feel safe and secure. This is the art of just looking around. This is what meditation is. Meditation is to feel safe and secure, and then look around from that point of view. Noticing that your body is healthy, your mind is healthy and you have shelter, water and food. Noticing that your loved ones are in the same state. From that point your entire being may relax, and simply notice what is around it. There is nothing left to do. At the top of all the mountains you can climb, this is the only reward. Standing there, not doing anything, just looking at what is. Because you do not understand at this point, you just look at it. You do not have to think, you can just see.

But there is a more subtle point here, and one that when missed will cause a lot of frustration. We should start by admitting to ourselves that getting to any top is hard. To feel completely safe, completely loved, completely inspired – all these are rare moments in life. So while it is true that when you reach this state, there is nothing left but looking around and seeing the whole thing, because at the top of the mountain there is no further up. It is also true that at any point while climbing you may turn around and look. It is not the privilege of the one at the top alone to see the world around you. While it may be obscured to some sides by mountain, you are still free to walk around the mountain and take in the view. This is the art of looking around, and this is what meditation is. Meditation is to stop, not do anything and just listen. It is to simply experience, with your entire being. Your feet, your skin, your lungs, your mind, your senses – all of it, let it all experience at one point. This is looking around, and while you look around you may get disturbed, because there is an upward slope in some directions, most of the view will be of a beautiful landscape stretching out in all directions. One we cannot see when we are only walking up the mountain. Also it becomes clear that the combination of the speed and incline defines the difficulty of turning around. If you are rushing up a vertical cliff, then you can’t just turn around and enjoy the view, because you would tumble down. If you are moving slowly, and on a less steep incline, then it becomes easier to look around, but also you may not be very high up yet. So you may simply not feel safe/loved/rich/healthy enough for it to be interesting to look around at the entirety around you. This is the ecosystem of safety/meditation/rushing-to-the-top. It is up to the individual to know how fast it wishes to go up the slope it choses, but it is advisable that it leaves time to look around at least once a day.