04/10/2014 01:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mountains as Sacred Centers

In traditions around the world, mountains have served as sacred centers. Mountains remain a dwelling-place of the gods and destinations of spiritual journeying. People of diverse cultures continually view and interact with mountains they revere. It is convincing why the ancient Greeks placed their pantheon on Mount Olympus, why Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and why Mount Kailash is believed to be the abode of the Hindu deity Shiva.

A mountaineer knows that a climb up a peak can be physical or metaphysical. Just as a mosque, temple, church, or meditation concentrates the mind on God, mountains can too. Mountains serve as an axis point between the metaphorical divide of heaven and earth.

photo credit: Ginna Kelly, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

I personally draw great spiritual strength from mountains. While climbing a mountain, I am fully in the present moment. I come face to face with what seems to be ultimate reality.

I am not only forced to be mindful, but I often find myself asking the big questions. "Are we here by chance, by necessity, by serendipity, or on purpose?" When I conclude a climb, I somehow feel I've probed deeper into questions about existence.

From time immemorial, mountains have been sacred centers that invite spiritual seekers. God or Ultimate Reality can speak to us in many ways -- through intimacy with mountains, oceans, love, compassion, and even suffering.

Photo Credit: Ginna Kelly, Peru

Standing in front of a 18,000 foot peak, I feel small. But the smallness I feel is a recognition of my place in the vast universe. It takes me from a place of self-centeredness to Reality-centeredness.