A Mountain Monk
When I say I am a monk, people often ask me what kind of monk. Am I a Buddhist monk? A Zen monk? Am I affiliated with a certain monastery or lineage?
I suppose I should say I am a mountain monk. I learn from the mountains. The mountains are my teachers and my lineage. I have a Zen lineage also that goes back thousands of years all the way to Shakyamuni Buddha. But my main lineage is these mountains and it is far older.
I don’t only learn from these mountains. I learn from everything. The sun, the stars, the wind, the birds, the coyotes, the mountain lion, snakes, spiders and ants are all my noble teachers. I learn from people too. People like Buddha, Dogen, Ramana Maharshi, Thich Nhat Hanh and Mooji understand mountain wisdom too and so I learn from them.
And I learn from other people as well. From the media and conversations, I learn to trust my mind and opinions. I learn that some things are good and some bad. I learn pride, arrogance, disappointment, anger, judgment and fear. I learn suffering. And I learn confusion because most people do not understand mountain wisdom. And if I spend too much time listening to their thoughts and opinions or my own, I don’t either.
So mostly I just listen to the mountains. The mountains teach me silence and stillness. They teach a timeless wisdom affected by neither birth nor death. Do not imagine that mountains cannot speak. They are always speaking. Do not imagine that mountains are limited to this planet or that they were not here before this planet. Do not imagine that these mountains have any limitations at all. Do not imagine that there is a hair’s breadth of separation between you and these mountains, because that is not what mountains teach.
When you understand the wisdom of mountains, you may learn to speak the language of mountains. People being people, not many will understand you. They are still listening to their thoughts. But some will.