Monday, December 26, 2011

Mount Kailas

This will probably be the last post of the year, as I'm revising a novel while also trying to get ready for the Vermont winter residency and my trip to India following that. But I wanted to end 2011 with an image.

This image.

This is Mount Kailas (or Kailash; Gang Tise in Tibetan), a rare sunlit view of the giant peak that rises to an astonishing 22,028 feet.

The picture of Kailas gilded by sunlight was sent to me by an Internet acquaintance who has my undiluted admiration for having recently been on the Kailas-Manasarovar yatra (Sanskrit for "journey" or  "pilgrimage").  Her group did the full parikrama (Sanskrit for "circumambulation") of the mountain on foot.

This part of Asia is a land of contested borders and competing claims of jurisdiction, with force and occupation ruling the day. It's also a place of great mystical significance for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and followers of the indigenous Tibetan religion of Bön. It was probably an object of awe and worship for unknown ancient belief systems that predate any religion we know today. Hindus believe it to be the abode of Lord Shiva himself, guardian of the forces of destruction and dissolution in the universe.

And finally, it's a place in danger. Himalayan glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates in our time.

So I want to end 2011 by taking some time to look at this mountain against light and cloud and sky. Just look. And see if it doesn't somehow provide perspective.

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