On the mountain everything becomes clear.
Who and where the true allies always were.
How you were right all along
about staying close to the gentle,
and the gentle-hearted.
How the time-tested methods don't betray.
How silence is a healer.
How the old maps provide a year of unburdening,
How that tightening below your shoulder blade
is a true barometer
for when someone only sees you
as a way to get their fix.
Before the mountain, the foothills.
The old Zen way speaks of mountains walking;
how they do that are foothills rising.
Stretching toward vistas.
even the foothills are the minds of buddhas-to-be.
Before foothills, the forest.
Standing sentinels welcome you.
As you step in, their swaying is an embrace like no other.
The forest has a strange way
of pulling other people's hooks out of you.
You can almost hear them drop at your feet
like clanging swords or harpoons.
Then, the lungs fill with sweet air
and you know you've arrived in a realm
beyond the reach of hungry ghosts, sorcerers, Soul-Eaters.
Before the forest, the river.
Her sweet song puts the mind at ease.
She quiets the senseless chatter
one absorbs from the Grasping World like a thick tar.
Herons mindfully walk the shoreline.
The heart leaps.
Grasshoppers click-click-click away with caution.
Dragonflies click-click-click closer
as if to tempt you with entrance into the dream world.
Before the river, the path.
Each step an in-breath,
accepting a standing invitation.
Ambling along, welcoming the animal in you to loosen tight tendons,
a joining-up happens with something unseen you realize your soul has been missing.
Path to river
river to forest
forest to foothills
foothills to mountain...
as you make your way to the summit,
the pure breeze initiating you,
you comprehend why the ancient apex
is seen the world over as a shrine of renewal.
This is what it means to 'come back to your true body'.
This is what it means 'to cross over the bridge of the self'.
This is what it means to 'become the mountain'.