Monks on Mountains: Grounding Buddhism in its Context

In an effort to divorce themselves from the desires of this banal world, (Buddhist) monks will meditate to both cleanse and refocus their minds and bodies so that they can reach a peaceful or higher state unencumbered. However, as one who likes to offer immanent critiques (or explanations) of all human practices to gain a better view if such practices should continue or not, I wanted to focus on the stereotypical view of a monk meditating against the awesome backdrop of a mountain valley system. This recurring mountainous surroundings context might be more important than any of the ideological system surrounding meditation in truly understanding Buddhism, and more largely humans in this world.

So why would monks tend towards living in these places, or perhaps an even more accurate question is why would these mountainous regions breed meditating monks in the first place? The answer that I have compiled is not that these places are otherworldly, but that they are so loaded with worldly energy that the bodily interactions they activate and enhance in a person (a monk) is far more potent than normal bodily desires in more plain geographies (in permaculture terms, there is a lot greater “edge” here). There is so much nurturance for a body to passively absorb in the mountains that some of the many needsL found in animals elsewhere are non-central here due to energetic abundance. At least one of the core modes in which this abundant mountain energy is freely given to the dwellers of mountains is through grounding—the importance of grounding for one’s well being is heralded by an array of practitioners from different times and paradigms, and occasionally even science helps elevate grounding above the psuedo-science mud (¡though that may be where grounding prefers to dwell!). So mountainous ranges are not merely places that allow monks an escape from the chaotic world of becoming so that they can connect more fully with the higher world of being; rather, quite to the contrary, they offer the most intense and deepest connection to the world of becoming because of their varied terrain that is full of a flux of vital energies. From the perspective of a human midway up a mountain side facing an adjacent valley and mountain, they are receiving a double grounding by the closeness to the majestic mountain across the way, and as a huge bonus they have a third connection to the sky that is lacking for most other humans living in the plains and coasts (skyscraper city livers may have sky access, but to gain this they sacrifice their only access to grounding, which is over the long term more important… we are less birds than ground dwellers!).

Mountains in a non-mathematical sense are truly a tripling of the Earth’s swaddling of our bodies and minds that we so desire and need as we truly are infants—very dependent on a healthy geography and ecosystem. To have this reassurance and love is our nirvana, and the heights of nirvana burn the strongest from the places where life is fullest, not where life is empty and being emptied.


L Though many needs may be subtracted from living in such an environ, one that is probably an addition is a need for oxygen. This serves as possible explanation for the cultural adoption of meditation, as in its geneaological origins, for a slow deep breathing serves not just the function of allowing a wide passageway for the calm, strong, and reassuring energy to enter, but also as a necessary source of compensatory oxygen in a lower oxygen environment.

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NOABCDEFGHIJKLMPQRSTUVWXYZ, extract the immanent negation