By Jamling Tenzing Norgay and Broughton Coburn
America is a young country with a dynamic and […] immature or formative culture. In terms of technical and material progress, it is far ahead of the developing world. In terms of culture and tradition, it is less advanced. I felt that meaning and connection were missing from my life in the United States, as if the country were lacking a spiritual core. All momentum and no center.
The absence of the “sense of sacredness and spirituality”is the source of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and confusion that I saw afflicting many Americans. Wealth and material progressions haven’t eased their malaise. Perhaps they have only aggravated it.
I found America to be organized, prepared, and on schedule. I could easily reassure myself that I was doing something important there, though I grew to wonder what I was actually accomplishing. And what were the people around me achieving? Success was the universal holy grail, and my American classmates had begun to pursue it even before they graduated. What did they expect to gain from it? More leisure time? More material goods? America has countless time-saving appliances and conveniences, so why is that Americans seem more pressed for time than those who don’t have them?
In the mountains, worldly attachments are left behind, and in the absence of material distractions, we are opened up to spiritual thought. When we look out at the ocean or gaze at the sky and the clouds or even the rock wall of a mountain, it is difficult for our minds to form labels. What is it really that we are looking at? There is no real thing there- just color and shape. And when we stop attaching labels to what we see, a sense of quietness flows in to fill the gap, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of emptiness.
We shouldn’t need to go to the mountains […]. We should be attempting to carry the spiritual experience of the mountains with us everywhere. When we return to normal surroundings, the mundane can begin to feel like something of a meaningless state. We need to return to the mountains to feed that liberating experience, because we depend on external landscapes and events to aid our understanding. Rather than allowing the quality of being fully present, fully aware, to develop around us at all times- and in a safer environment- we become addicted to a certain quality of circumstance and experience.
Focus on the substance of the pursuit, rather than on the setting they feel they need to be in for it to occur.