I live in a state of surprise. It’s also called Arizona. I’m surprised that practically everywhere I turn there’s another mountain. I love to hike in the mountain ranges around Tucson. From the peaks I marvel at the rows of additional mountains stretching to the horizon. Mountains are amazing, each one with its own character depending on how it was formed and the evolution of its own complex ecosystem.
In the Bible, stories that include mountains have wonderful symbolism to our inner spiritual world. In a positive way, they symbolize love to the Lord and toward the neighbor. These are so-called peak spiritual experiences that God is always drawing us toward. But in a negative way, mountains symbolize all kinds of selfishness and worldliness which we build up throughout our lives, mostly mechanically and subconsciously, not even realizing how large and important they are to us.
Picture yourself at the base of a mountain range – a range of states of selfishness and worldliness that rise up and block your way to your goal. Picture the whole land around it as your consciousness, and you are in it, and so is your beautiful goal up there in the sunshine beyond the mountain. Your goal might be a higher state of happiness, a lofty ideal of a relationship or marriage, a heightened sense of compassion. Between you and your goal are various mountains. You identify with each of them. Each has formed over time and has its own complex egosystem. We get set in our ways. These mountains loom as formidable obstacles that demand our attention.
If you feel yourself getting into some negative state, picture being at the base of one of these mountains, in the shadow, having lost sight of the goal, and feeling cold and dark internally. The voices of hell tell us that what stands between us and our goal are mountains outside us called by various names, such as “The Past,” “Other People,” and “Things that Get in Our Way.” But in reality, the mountain is inside.
There are two main challenges with these internal mountains: first knowing about them and then removing them.
When you find yourself in an active negative state, be aware that this is a mountain in you that is rising up and getting in the way. The mountain is not other people or things happening around you. It’s your own negative internal reaction to those outward things. Then name the mountain. Ask yourself, “What selfish or worldly love is active in me right now?” It might be a selfish cynicism, or an addictive mentality, or it might be impatience with the limitations of the world – limitations because stuff breaks, or people engineer stuff so that it breaks, or random acts of unkindness. Naming the mountain helps you recognize your situation somewhat dispassionately. Then with curiosity, describe it in some detail just as a geologist or naturalist might identify various features of a worldly place.
Once you name the mountain, the next challenge is getting help to remove. We so identify with a particular mountain that it would be impossible for us to get rid of it on our own. We see the tip of it, but most of it is deep down, beyond our awareness. Only a higher, wiser, stronger power can remove it from our lives. God is eager to help move mountains for our sake, but we need to ask – seriously – and allow him to make a miracle happen. This takes faith – a belief in a power bigger than our own that can be effective beyond our wildest dreams.
Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
In another place he said, “Assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:22-24
About this, Emanuel Swedenborg writes, “Saying to a mountain, ‘Be removed,’ means the removal of evil loves and false notions; and ‘Be cast into the sea’ means to be sent to hell where they come from. Because of this symbolism, this became a common expression among people long ago when they were talking about the power of faith; not that faith could literally cast earthly mountains into the sea, but that it could cast evil loves and false notions into hell.” Apocalypse Explained 405:53
Task #34 Name the Mountain
Observe any area in your life in which you feel blocked.
~ The mountain is in you.
~ Examine the mountain and name it.
~ Describe it.
~ Pray to your Higher Power that it be removed.
This essay written by Nathan Gladish