The Home Run View from the peak of Heart Mountain

We artist monks, artist nuns at Heart Mountain Monastery assume that everybody on the planet is  on a pilgrimage, sometimes traveling together, often traveling alone. The pilgrimage is a pilgrimage to the heart – – to the center of our being. And obviously, traveling this path we experience peaks and valleys.

When we arrive, even for a moment, at the peak of Heart Mounaches-peakntain, the view is tremendous. From the peak we see, and more importantly feel and experience, that the world is beautiful, that life itself is vast and complex and very much worth engaging. Using traditional terms, we experience that this moment,  this world is sacred, complete, full, sufficient. At the peak of Heart Mountain, we recognize that we ourselves , along with every other person on the planet, have been ”wonderfully made.” We are completely happy to be right where we are, doing whatever we are doing in that moment. The peak of Heart Mountain is not a place. It’s a state of mind. It’s a mystical moment when we see that everything, absolutely everything, is perfect, just as it is.

Such as: Imagine you are a kid again, playing baseball, and you’re up to bat. It’s the bottom of the ninth inning,  the count is three balls, two strikes,  and  three runners—your teammates—are on base. The score is 4 to 1, the other team’s ahead.  So this is the last pitch of the game. It comes in fast, low, but exactly how you like it. You swing,  Wham! You connect, solidly, with all your strength—mental, emotional, physical – – and the balls sails, and sails and sails, up over the outfielder’s head, then over the far fence itself. Yay, and double yay! You take off running, the crowd roars, you round first, you round second, you round third, the crowd is still roaring. As you run between third and home plate, your team mates run to great you, slapping you on the back, shaking your hand, hugging you.  You did it! You won the game!

That’s the view – – the experience – – from the peak of Heart Mountain.

Or maybe it’s when you are sitting in the pew, candles burning, best friends and family sitting shoulder to shoulder all around, and you are watching your son or daughter, say, ”I do.” Tears well-up, your heart melts.  That’s also the experience at the peak of Heart Mountain.

Or when the doctor, studying the test results, looks up at you and smiles and says, “There’s absolutely no sign of the cancer.”

Or when Johnny or Jeannie walks through the front door, home from his/her final tour in Afghanistan.

Or maybe, more simply, when you are reading the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or the Upanishads – – and suddenly what is being pointed to, becomes crystal clear, becomes very present, almost physically, right there in the room, with morning sunlight coming softly through the lace curtains. This, too, can be the experience at the peak of Heart Mountain.

Most of us, most of the time, do not live at the peak. Our daily experiences are more common, ordinary, unexceptional. Nevertheless, our experiences at the peak—our experiences of the goodness, the rightness, the delight of life and living —will color, infuse, uplift all our other ordinary daily activities. If and when we aren’t at the peak, if we are nevertheless aware that we are living here on Heart Mountain, our ordinary, daily views are still quite pleasant.

The experience of the heart of being is an experience of simply being at home, being at ease with where we are; it’s the experience of love and light and flow. To learn to live in the heart of being—or close to the heart of being– is a lifelong pilgrimage,  somewhat like climbing a mythical mountain. Although easiest, and most obvious in those “exceptional” moments—hitting a home run or hearing good news from the doctor– the peak Heart Mountain experience can and does happen at any time, any place. It can happen while riding in the subway, or walking in the woods, in church or synagogue or temple, or shopping at Walmart. We can set ourselves up for the peak experience – – that is what we are doing when attending church or synagogue, satsang or temple. But we can also train ourselves to be vulnerable to the experience, expectant of the experience, at any time, any place.

With such training, we know that our valley experiences – – the lows, the shadows, the lack of far horizons – – are simply part of the territory, here on Heart Mountain. Knowing this, the journey becomes first a steady, daily plod, then a pleasant routine, then it becomes more of a gentle dauly flow, and finally , of course, at least in moments, it becomes the experience of ascension.

This is the metaphor we use, and  share, as artist monks and nuns, here on Heart Mountain, here on this planet we seem to have come to together.  We speak and encourage and remind each other this way, in these metaphysics, these metaphors, to help clarify and make the pilgrimage more ease-full, knowing the summit may be right around the next bend, or at the next stoplight, the next blog post. The peak of Heart Mountain can rise up any where, at any time.

Or at least, that’s my view, here today, on this mountain.

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