200 million years ago it was just a high plateau before continental drift caused the India land mass to collide with Asia, thrusting the mountains skyward. For centuries the mountain was called Chomolungma by the Tibetan native population. And in 1865 Everest was given its English name by the Royal Geographical Society. Andrew Waugh recommended that the peak be named after his predecessor, Colonel Sir George Everest.
The view from the top is incredible. On a clear day you can see features 211 miles away.
So far about 400 climbers have completed the trek. But these mountaineers stand on the shoulders of many others who paved the way:
In 1852, stationed at the survey’s headquarters in Dehradun, Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the first to identify Everest as the world’s highest peak, using trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson’s measurements.
In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested that climbing Mount Everest was possible in his book “Above the Snow Line.”
In 1921 the northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory.
In 1922 a British expedition led by George Finch climbed using oxygen for the first time. He ascended at a remarkable speed – 950 feet (290 meters) per hour, and reached an altitude of 8,320 meters (27,300 ft); the first time a human climbed higher than 8,000 meters.
In 1924 an attempt by Mallory and Bruce was aborted due to bad weather.
In 1953 a ninth British expedition led by John Hunt returned to Nepal. Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans came within 100 m (300 feet) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back after becoming exhausted. Two days later, the expedition made its second and final assault on the summit with its second climbing pair, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa climber. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953 via the South Col Route. Hillary had put his foot on the summit first. They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.
The sense of sight allows us to distinguish separate objects and distance in the field of time/space. It is the most active of our human senses. It functions through the mind/brain which in turn is lively due to breath. As sight is the most dominant of our senses, stilling its function calms down and settles all of the others. That’s why it is beneficial that we close our eyes while meditating.
The physiology of sight depends upon the proper functioning of many systems. The lens of the eye (biconvex) and the cornea focus the light on the retina; that image is upside down. 150 million light-sensitive cells called Rods and Cones convert the image into electrical signals, and the Optic Nerve connects the eyeball to the brain.
The brain does the interpretation. Even though the image is delivered up-side-down, the brain flips it back right-side-up. If you remain up-side-down for about two days, the brain will flip your sight right-side-up again.
In classical terms, we have five basic senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But the body functions by employing other receptors as well – balance through the vestibular sense, temperature via homeostatic thermal receptors in the brain, the kinesthetic sense for spatial orientation, pain receptors, pulmonary and a host of other functions.
The bread toaster, cell phone, television and air conditioner are examples of inert constructs of metal and wires that do not function without an energy source. Electricity brings them all to life. The human body is a biological living organism (self repairing, directed by the intelligence of nature) that also in turn functions only when associated with it source, the vital energy, Qi or Prana.
Although we as humans build our own subtle bodies, the physical body is not ours to construct. We don’t tell our heart when to beat, or direct the repair of skin tissue and organs, or oversee the actual fight of white blood cells against invading bacteria. The forces of nature (the three gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) created and maintain this on their own.
And through the practice of meditation we transcend the field of time/causation to realize that we are not even the vital energy that animates our body. We are the eternal absolute Self.
“I am not that which is called vital energy, nor the different components of the body. I am not the different limiting adjuncts that like sheaths cover the soul, nor am I the organs of action. I am the all-pervading Self.”
(Sri Sankaracharya’s Atmapanchaka)
“This Self, who is omniscient and all-knowing, and whose glory is manifest in the universe, dwells in the body the abode of the Divine. He is of the nature of pure consciousness manifesting through the mind. He is the controller of the vital energy and the body. He dwells in the body, being seated in the heart. By knowing Him, the wise realize that which is bliss and immortality.
(Mundakopanishad, II, ii, 7, 8.)
From a spiritual standpoint we can describe the physiological process of vision in these words:
The instrument (Karanas) of vision is the eyes
Behind that is the organ of vision (Indriyas) – the optic nerve and its centers
The mind (Manas) must attach itself to the organ
The sensation must be carried to the intellect (Buddhi)
The reaction is the flash of the external world and egoism, perception materialized and made real
All of this takes place on a mental screen background, projected and shrouding the soul, the Purusha or Atman.
Our personal concept of spirituality and what our relationship is to the universe, or a supreme being (i.e., God – if any), is directly correlated to how we see ourselves. Our vision is based partly upon teachings, but more so upon direct personal experience. The one universal and adamantine foundation of all our knowledge is – direct experience. Meditation brings to light that verifiable and undeniable experiential truth.
Our concept of God evolves with the growth of consciousness.
|My personal concept of
|My state of consciousness||My corresponding concept of God||My resulting life actions and understanding|
|I am this body, mind an ego.||Waking, dreaming and sleeping.||God exists outside the universe and resides in heaven (or somewhere). He governs all creation and judges with reward and punishment.||I am the servant (the sheep) and God is the Master (the sheppard) creator. I want a personal relationship with him/her as my heavenly father/mother.|
|I am the Transcendental Spirit.||Transcendental Consciousness (TC)||All consciousness is One.||I am eternally present.|
|I define myself as a Part and the Whole.||Enlightenment
Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (GC)
|God is omnipresent and is the soul of all souls.||Having reached moral perfection, freedom from desires and eternal bliss consciousness, all action is in accord with the laws of nature.|
|All this is an expression of Myself||Unity Consciousness (UC)||I and the Father are one.||I am Brahman, all This is That.|
During meditation our encounter with bliss takes away all fear. Inner joy bubbles over, and all is forgiven as the world is now just and perfect. The knots of the heart break asunder as all doubts disappear. The Self is now my treasure, graced by the brilliant sun during the day and the moon and stars by night.
The unreal never is, the real is never not.
The turbulent senses (sight) carry away the mind and discrimination is lost. But coming back to my source and knowing him (Brahman) places me beyond the cycle of birth, death and sorrow.
Close the eyes (meditate) and bask in eternal freedom.