(This is a transcript of a talk that Swamiji gave on 29 September 2011 before a pilgrimage led by Tinyu Chen, Yoong, and Swami Ritavan to Mt. Kailash was to begin.)
Kailash is a sacred most, the most sacred place, of four religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, then one religion about which most people do not know called Jain religion – it was founded by a great teacher named Mahabirar who was at the same time that the Buddha was teaching in India, but that religion has not spread because it is a very very pure and ascetic religion so not many people know about it because you follow many many rules of purity – and Mt. Kailash is also, of course, the sacred most place for the people of the Bon-po, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, of which there are still many followers, and some of the Tibetan Buddhism is also a mixture with the influence of Bon-po.
One can never quite explain why some place is sacred. Why is Kaaba sacred? Why is Jerusalem sacred? No?
People who have gone there, they have felt a sanctity, a change of consciousness, a certain peace of mind, and they feel it is sacred. And the word spreads, so for thousands of years, pilgrims have been going there.
The word kailasha in Sanskrit means crystal and in all the spiritual traditions, crystal is a purest state of mind; when no color is reflecting in the mind that is mind of crystal light purity.
The Mt. Kailash is not made of physical crystal, but because of the purity, we call it a crystal mountain. That is the original crystal mountain.
In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it is called Gangs Rinpoche, Gangs Rinpoche. The word rinpoche is used for reincarnated Buddhas, so they regard this as a living entity, a living deity, not just a mountain.
You must understand that the sacred places are not like other places of the world. Sacred places have a certain special spiritual life in them. And those who go there, they feel that life. Where that life comes from - it is a secret known only to the great masters, great yogis, and so on.
So Gangs Rinpoche, the precious jewel, the precious jewel of the snow.
The Bon-po, the original Tibetan religion, people - I do not remember the exact Tibetan word - call it the Water Flower, Water Flower.
These, all these words express a feeling of purity. The purity is of the mind that comes by being there.
The Jain tradition, the religion that I spoke about, they say that one of their 24 founders, the very first of their 24 founders, named Risabha Deva was enlightened in Kailash mountain, so they all make pilgrimage there also.
In Hinduism, it is the dwelling place of Shiva and his wife Parvati. There is such a vast philosophy about Shiva that I cannot begin to explain. The universal meditating God – Shiva who is meditating within us - God who is meditating within us. And more than half of what you might call Hindu mythology is centered around Shiva and how people of all different temperaments, divine and demonic, all go to Mt. Kailash to worship Shiva and receive his blessing because Shiva is easy to please. Anybody can fool him. With very little worship, he is pleased and he asks “What do you want?” and sometimes he gets into quite a bit of trouble, but I will not go into Shiva stories. There are many systems of philosophy built around Shiva, but the shape of Mt. Kailasha is like the Shiva linga, the oval form in which the solidified light is placed as the shrine and that is the shape of Kailasha, the way we have our Shiva lingam in our ashram. Because the jyoti lingas, the lingas made of light, they are made of crystal. And Kailash is called Crystal Mountain.
So as in all belief systems there are layers upon layers upon layers and there are people who say they have seen Shiva on Mt Kailasha or they have seen great Jaina Masters or Gangs Rinpoche or they have seen great sages.
And there are caves around the Mt Kailash where it is believed that for thousands of years rishis and the bodhisattvas have been sitting there in hiding in eternal meditation and it is their vibration also that the pilgrims feel.
The pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash is not easy. It is 52 kilometers, and according to the scriptures, you are supposed to do 52 kilometers in one day, but nobody can do, because from 15000 feet to 18000 feet in one day 52 kilometers that is not easy. It is said that some people have done it, but they must be people of very very special power.
So you go and you meditate.
The lake below Mt. Kailash that all pilgrims visit is Manasorovar, lake of the mind in which the Kailasha reflects. So now you can see what a meditative connection that is. Shiva in his jyoti linga form
The earth is a representation of that process that takes place in us when we advance deep in our meditation.
I have not been fortunate to visit the place and now at my age I do not think that I can visit, but when you come back, I would like to touch your hand because anyone who says I am coming back from Kailash I touch them. Some holiness will be imparted to me. So congratulations, Tinyu, for organizing this, and I wish you a great great pilgrimage. God bless you.
[Someone starts to talk]
Just a minute.
Kailasha Mountain in the Himalayan tradition of meditation is always – (touching his body) this is the earth this body. And this here (touching his head) is Mt. Kailash, and Shiva dwells here (touching the crown of his head). Thank you for reminding me. I was forgetting the most important part. This here is Mt. Kailash.
You see, spiritual traditions speak to people at different levels. To some, they speak only about the internal experience. Those to whom the internal experience is not yet open, not yet available, for them, there is a shrine in the village, there is a temple, there is a statue, there is an image or a whole natural phenomenon.
It is the natural tendency in the people of spiritual traditions, especially in the Orient, that any place that has a unique geographical form, they say it is sacred. Lakes, sacred. Mountains, sacred. Anything that has a special form – there is a presence of the divine beauty there. Rivers, sacred. And that way people connect to the idea of sanctity. Even in a physical form. So people should not view a mountain only as another mountain, should not view a river as only flowing water. They should feel the living spirit in it. So the living spirit that is inside us meditating in the Mt. Kailash and we see it in the geographical form as well, so this is a connection
[Comment: You always carry a photo of Mt. Kailash with you.]
Yes, I carry the photo of Mt. Kailash because that is my spiritual home although I have never been there.
(End of transcript)
Swamiji wrote to Swami Ritavan, Tinyu, and Yoong: “I am glad you are back safe. The eastern people who walk these parikramas do not analyse the spiritual benefits. They simply accept the fact that being there is a blessing. On the other hand I have known many who have returned without any change in them… many of my friends have gone to Kailash but I did not feel the closeness. This time I feel I have done the pilgrimage by proxy in the comfort of my holiday hideout at the tremendous height of 1 foot above sea level! My mind kept going to you all.”
Tinyu posted Swamiji’s talk above on the AHYMSIN Facebook page; here is the link:
We also invite you to read
“Meditation, Love, and Service” by Swami Veda at https://www.ahymsin.org/docs2/News/1106Jun/index.html
“What Is a Pilgrim” by Swami Veda at https://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Swami-Veda-Bharati/what-is-a-pilgrim.html and
“What is a Pilgrimage?” by Swami Veda at https://www.swamivedablog.org/?p=242