Buddha and the art of ice climbing!

All states of being are determined by mind, it is mind that leads the way.

This is the opening quotation in The Dhammapada which is supposedly a record of many of the sayings of Buddha. No one can be sure though because he never wrote anything down and many of them come from the memory of his followers after Buddha’s death. As the opening quotation it surely has some significance, a kind of a scene setter or laying down of a standard for what is about to come next in the book? But it does more than this; it opens up the whole can of worms about the difference between mind and brain, together with the question of whether an experience determines how we feel (state of being) or the converse that our mind affects the experience!

From about 15 years ago I became convinced it was the latter, with the mind (and its state) affecting an experience as I learned and applied the art of ice climbing at the ripe old age of 60.

Cascade de Clapouse, La Grave, France,  Grade WI4 – near-vertical steps of up to 10 metres, generally sustained climbing requiring placing protection screws from strenuous stances

I stood at the bottom of this vertical wall of ice watching Rich move smoothly to the top of the first pitch. This was the most difficult grade of ice I had attempted and my brain had almost seized up thinking about technique, the equipment clanking on my harness, my cold fingers, my left boot was chafing, thirst, strength needed, my dodgy hip, and ….. fear. What the hell was I doing here?
Then two things happened; for some strange reason that first quote came into my head “all states of being are determined by mind, it is mind that leads the way” and after a few seconds I started to see the blue sky, the shape and colours of the ice, the shape and sharpness of my two axes, followed by Rich shouting “come on, time to whack and dangle”. My whole perception of my surroundings and what I was about to do changed completely, I was still careful and thoughtful, never reckless and risk taking thinking myself invincible, but that moment in time also altered my approach to further ice climbing and summiting some big stuff in Nepal too.

All  states of being are determined by mind …..

Categories: Buddha

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3 replies

  1. Whack and dangle 😂😂
    Also nothing better than the sound of gear on your harness clanking !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Inspiring post.The mysteries and power of the mind never cease to amaze me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done but I don’t do Ice Climbing though I am a Buddhist.

    Liked by 1 person

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