Up in the Clouds

By Jogyata Dallas

 

It’s a windless Sunday morning and I’m sitting on the crater summit of Mt. Ngaruahoe, the Mt Doom of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, dangling my feet over the edge of the crater wall. At 7,300 feet up in the sky the view is stunning – as far as the eye can see a panorama of mountains, the violent genesis of recent volcanoes strewn all around, the far-off tectonic upheavals of the central North Island peaks, and further away on the edge of the sea the snow smeared cone of Mt Taranaki. Blue sky, lakes of silvered sunlight, red earth, green valleys of hard-won pasture, the rumpled earth torn into wild majesty by millennia of  volcanic fire.

 

My companions join me, breathing hard after inching up the steep scree face of the mountain. Far below others are tiny ants moving across the red earth, 20 kms of trail before them. There are people here from all over the world, and it’s wonderful how happy and friendly they all are – we’re a one-world family, happiness is infectious, you can talk to any stranger. An English boy joins me, shares my lunch. I tell a Canadian couple the mountain will erupt at 2:30pm, they’d better finish their summit lunch and flee. They respond by throwing snow at me.  They sit on their packs and slide down an ice field for 200 metres, the girl shrieking in terror and delight.

kailash5s

Its been a great week. We’ve had the Swiss meditation teacher Kailash here, a tour of Australia and New Zealand, ‘Secrets of Happiness’ talks most evenings. Post-class, snacking on curries and yellow rice, we quizz him about his life back home in the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Switzerland, his thoughts on everything from meditation to humanity’s future. We’re all fairly positive on this, though there will be some big challenges.

 

It’s been another topsy-turvey year, but there have been the good things. We’ve offered our ‘Hour of Peace’ program to quite a few companies in Auckland, held over 36 free meditation courses, placed Sri Chinmoy’s inspirational aphorisms in over 250 retail stores, installed peace-themed paintings in city-wide exhibits, conducted radio interviews and published 15 lengthy articles in magazines. We’ve also organised 12 fun-runs – plus our national 24 hour championship race – given out over 500 ‘Happiness’ posters, and had some great fun-filled weekends away. And Golden Grove, our Montessori-type school, is slowly spreading its wings, lots of beautiful kids preparing for life.

 

What lies ahead in the incoming year? A commitment to more of this, a resolve to deepen our personal meditation practise, swirling plans for new and needed enterprises, a deeper listening to where we need to point ourselves. Newness too, the further resolve to not get stuck and overly comfortable. Like the steep mountain face of our weekend adventure, the higher slopes of growing and becoming are always beckoning, calling us onward and upward, up into the beautiful clouds.