Climbing and Buddhism?!

Recently, while on a climbing trip to the Shawangunk’s Ridge region, near New Paltz, NY (USA), I purchased yet another guide-book entitled: “Bouldering in the Shawangunks” by Ivan A. Greene and Marc E. Russo. I am bringing this up because I’ve had many conversations with other rock climbers about why it is they climb. For most people, climbing is more than a sport, it’s a way of life some would say. In fact, it is as much a way to release and regain energy, as it is about being in communion with nature. Better yet, I have not met a climber unhappy to be climbing ;)

For my part, climbing has always been a sort of active meditation. Whether I am listening to music while endurance climbing on our wall at home or whether I am climbing outside, the only thing I am doing at that moment is climbing. All my attention, all my focus has to go into what I am doing at this present moment or else… well, or else it just doesn’t work! Climbing for me is as much a way to enjoy the scenery as it is to relax and forget about whatever went on that day.

In a conversation with my partner, he read me an excerpt from Greene and Russo’s guide, which he found, describes very well how he feels about climbing:

“To fail on a route feels the same for everyone. […] Everyone has a threshold that, when reached, stops them. The discipline of climbing is about finding that threshold, and moving through it to a new, unknown level. […] Pushing through your normal failure boils down to a willingness to preserve through pain, fatigue, panic, indecision, frustration, and fear of the unknown.

One of the illustrious Buddha’s Four Noble Truths says, ‘All suffering originates in our desires.’ […] The desire to climb harder is not about bigger numbers, it is about exploring your personal limitations, understanding them, and moving past them. […] In pushing up to and beyond your own threshold, you begin too see who you are: your strengths, your instincts, your creativity, and your willingness to persevere.

Desire may lead to suffering, but it is in suffering that one can learn the most about oneself. And when you actually do your project, you may just notice that the key to success was, in fact, to be in the moment, free of desire.” (written by Mike Call)

Climbers find bits of happiness in climbing. However, anyone seeking to find who they really are will also come to face their own strengths and weaknesses and only through one’s willingness to persevere will they lead a happier life. So don’t give up, move past the hard part (crux) and continue trying and striving towards your goals because you may find that you’ll meet some really nice people along the way.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. informationforager
    May 30, 2011 @ 21:17:09

    A very good post. Thanks. I like the linking of climbing and Buddhism.

    Yes, my desires have ensnared in my own web.

    Keep Blogging. Keep Writing.


  2. V. Barnes
    May 30, 2011 @ 22:53:35

    Thank you!


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