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If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.

Zen Proverb

I like to climb mountains.  Something about the solitude and persistence in each step moves me.  Rising above the clouds with the air stinging my lungs I feel connected to the wind, and to the clouds.  The feeling of self disappears into a blend of the elements.  My spirit soars connected to the majesty of the mountain and all that surrounds. 

Mountains have always been a source of enlightenment and peace.  From the reverence of Mt. Kailash, to the sacred Taoist and Buddhist mountains in China, mountains have provided inspiration, solitude and a foundation for one on a spiritual quest.  As Sir Edmund Hillary stated, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” 

When I read the Zen proverb, “If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.” I was stuck.  I meditated on this thought and meaning, just as a good Zen thought or Koan should move someone.  In reflection, this quote has me visualize the end as if manifesting the result.  This manifestation creates a way of being, a distinction one lives into.  Another Zen thought says “When the task is done beforehand, then it is easy.”  Whether this is climbing a mountain, finishing your task list or giving love, starting from the end establishes this way of being for you to create actions to complete the task. 

If I were to take on the task of climbing a mountain without the end in mind  my task would not only be difficult, but I would feel defeated before I even begin.  My mind would create thoughts of how difficult and how much suffering I would go through.  It would dwell on how many steps in the route, and how cold it would be.  It would create thoughts that focus on “maybe”, and “I am not sure if I can.”  I would be in a space that was not the distinction of Mountain Climber.  Without this distinction I would have no belief in my myself that I could actually complete this task.  Without this belief my actions would be consistent with this way of being.  I would fail before I even began.

Indifferent to this, if I created the distinction that I was a MOUNTAIN CLIMBER, and I would reach the top….that I would actually BEGIN at the top then my actions would be consistent with this way of being.  I would enjoy and be present on the climb indifferent to the feeling of suffering and pain and how I might not make it.  The pain felt would be part of the journey versus reasons why I would not succeed. 

We all have our personal mountains.  Where in your life do you doubt who you are and your way of being?  This happened to me when I started writing.  I would not say I was a writer or author even after I had my book published.  I was a business guy that did this as a hobby.  I was not living the distinction nor taking responsibility for my stand on this planet.  I started living this distinction of WRITER and a STAND for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for all living beings.  Since this time, my actions are consistent with this way of being.  This is my mountain that I chose to begin at the top. 

Choose your way of being.  Believe you are this distinction in your life.  Be this distinction and create actions consistent with this way of being.  Take control of your life….BEGIN AT THE TOP.

Call to Action:

        • Get present to your life and where you are not seeing the END in mind.  Create a new way of being in these areas of your life.  Create a distinction for yourself and live this distinction, be this person.
        • Create your way of being with the end in mind.  You are a mountain climber, you are a loving wife, you are a leader.  Be this, with the end in mind.
        • Be LOVE.

Thomas D. Craig

Author A Cup of Buddha