Edwin Birnbaum, Mountain Research And Development Twenty, Mount Kailash discussed on Stuff To Blow Your Mind

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

It summons feeling that someone's emotions and takes us outside of ourselves. E O Wilson Talks about this a little bit When he's discussing the Affiliate hypothesis and I think this is in the context of him. Generally talking about evolutionary explanations for our aesthetic preferences like why is it so often that pictures we find beautiful include vistas from a high point of view. You know being able to look down over a landscape and he offers some possible evolutionary explanations for that you know maybe this is like a more defendable point where you can see things coming towards you but yeah. It's hard to deny that when I see a mountain. I don't know if everybody feels this way as much as I do. When I see a mountain I want to go up it. I've never done mountain climbing hiking and stuff but I do want to go up to the top of the highest point in look down. We'll see I think you and I are different. In this regard. We've talked before on on the show. About how you have. No problem like walking up the cliff right. I'm a little more reluctant to do that. But still of icy like crazy Clifford P core or images of people mountain climbing. I do put my imagine myself up there and often terrify myself with the prospect on so I feel like that kind of mental transportation is inevitable but a couple of other things about just how we think about mountains. A common trope in various mythologies and we'll touch on some specific examples here in a bit. Are that the mountain or at least a mountain. Peak on some level connects earth to the sky so sky pillar situation where the mountain is holding up. The Cosmos are holding up the heavens holding up the sky or it is in some way an umbilical or a ladder and Or the mountain itself serves as a you know an an access Monday. The Central Tent Pole of Sacred Cosmos a stairway to heaven. If you will well that's really interesting. Because especially it pairs with older ways of thinking about the sky you know. It's not all that uncommon for ancient peoples to have conceived the sky as a place with solid ground. That you could walk around. In like a firmament there's a dome over the earth and And so you might wonder what does something hold up the dome. If they're solid ground up there that the gods can walk around in there must be something holding it up and so you can imagine. We'll maybe a mountain holds it up. That's the obvious. Answer in fact yes as you can see where this complex we've emerges of an attempt to understand what is what your visit whether you're actually observing. What is the objective reality and then also these mythical ideas of like what does about that structure and And incinerator and the importance of place in identity. There's also from a practical since the fact that the stand atop a great height is to gain a crucial vantage point. Yeah in some cases that can be purely strategic. This is the Wilson thing. Yeah he can see the movements of of her animals. You can see the movements of enemy troops et CETERA. But I also wonder if it could be something a little more existential. I wonder if if such heightened could be considered possibly a capable of invoking something like the overview effect that proposed state of mind or a state of euphoric interconnectedness that ensues when one sees the planet Earth from Outer Space. It's not quite the same certainly. I'm wondering if perhaps that affect scales down to some extent I can absolutely see that some astronauts report they look out the window of the International Space Station or of their. You know their vehicle and they see the earth from space and suddenly it just comes into sharp focus that that are petty squabbles. Are exactly that they're petty. You know then they vanish in the face of the fact that we're all trapped on this ball together and and it makes human concerns looks small and makes people feel a strong sense of sort of see. The common interest of all humanity and the connectedness of all of our concerns because the fate of the earth is the fate of all of us. And Yeah I can absolutely see that happening. I mean so imagine you normally. You live in a small village or a city where you are. You know you. You've got your day to day concerns. You're angry with your neighbor. You've got your politics that you're doing if you're like a priest or something and then you go up on a mountain and then you look down at the place where you come from the village or the city or the farms and suddenly everything looks tiny this basic shift in visual and optical perspective could very well trigger the same kind of mental shift people experience when they go into space. Yeah absolutely I was doing a little reading about about some of these ideas and Iran across the next one little paper by Edwin Birnbaum titled in Sacred Mountains themes and teachings and this is from Mountain Research and Development Twenty. Six and the author does a great job of just laying out some basics for instance lays out three basic ways that mountains are considered sacred We can as I lay these out. You can certainly think two examples we've discussed already and I think these will also be useful in considering Examples discussed in the rest of the podcast. So Birnbaum says first. Specific peaks are singled out as places of sanctity. They're supported by myths and practices such as pilgrimages meditation and even sacrifice number two they may contain sacred sites or objects like temples or shrines. Or even something more natural like spring and number three. The natural setting itself awakens a sense of wonder and all right. All three of these tend to work together. Birnbaum says on an individual's experience with the sacredness of Mountain. Furthermore Birnbaum defined Kim themes frequently seen in sacred mountains so they are roughly height center. Power God or a guy who the mountains God itself where it is the home of God's non as a place of worship. The Mountain Paradise or garden is a place where the ancestors of the dead may reside a source of Cultural Identity. A source of healing or or just a source of water. Which makes sense because I mean goes downhill exactly and also as a place of renewal so these are again. Ten broad themes Birnbaum identifies in the identity and characterization of sacred mountains all right well. We can look for these and examples of mountains that we talk about. So maybe I'll offer up one example of a mountain to think about and then maybe after that take a break and then look at some other okay but this first one is one. I mentioned in the episode where we talked about pressure because I think it's a commonly cited example of a very important holy mountain that's Holy IN MULTIPLE RELIGIONS. Not just one and this would be the peak of its peak in the Himalayas known as Mount Kailash Lhasa And so this is a holy mountain in multiple religions in Hinduism. This mountain is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva the destroyer of evil and of his wife. Parvathi who together sit in meditation at the summit of the mountain and so the sight of Mount Kailash a destination of pilgrimage for many Hindus who climb Fifteen thousand feet or about four point six kilometers up this ascent path to the base of the mountain but do not climb it summit in fact climbing the sacred summit is forbidden. And while we can't know for sure it's often said that the summit has never been climbed by a human instead it's believed virtuous for pilgrims to walk in a circle around the base of the mountain but not go up to the summit And this of course is not just a holy site for Hindus as I was saying but it's also holy for Buddhists for Jane's and for people of the indigenous religion of Tibetan on his bone. Yes a very ancient animist religion. Yeah now if you look at what? A picture of Mount Kailash looks like from below. I mean I'd say obviously I already know this about it when I've seen pictures of it but it's not hard to see how a person looking up at this peak would begin to think that something powerful and holy and forbidden resided there does not look welcoming to ascent like it doesn't look easy to climb and I think there's something powerful about that to see a place and think I mean especially in today's Day and age to think oh wonder if people have ever been on that spot as a person ever stood there and if the answer is even possibly no there is something sacred about that like. We've we've pretty screwed everything else up but that one peak is is pristine. You will not find a slim. Jim Rapper there. Yeah and that does seem important right. I mean part of the issue is anytime there's a mountain that people say has not been climbed. Obviously people are gonNA WANNA climate. So I've been reading. There's political controversy over this. It's like I think there was one point. I read a team of Spanish mountain climbers who announced that they were going to climb the mountain. But it's a it's a holy site you're not supposed to climb it Even though I think the team they were not Hindus the so they didn't share this belief about the religious forbidden this of the mountaintop but the government authorities prevented them from climbing the mountain. I think just because they wanted to avoid this leading to unrest or just I guess being seen as an insult to people who believe that the mountain should not be climbed I mean I do tend to wonder if people just started climbing a mountain like this all the time. Would it kind of break the spell of this story? Would it make people? Would it make the mountain seem less? Holy I don't know that's something to consider and after we come back from this next break. We're going to take that consideration into specific examples not only with actual mountains and some of the sacred ideas about the bidding also be looking at some Samantha logical and even fictional mountains which I guess are kind of inherently safe from from mountain climbers laundering. Where they're not supposed to be. Hey everybody if you're looking for better business. Communications US bondage. They have unified communications. That organize all your texts. Emails and voice calls onto one platform contact centers that integrate seamlessly with salesforce and. Api's that can help your developers build communications into your APPS. But that's it. Those are the things von is really good at yeah. They're not so good exploring saving machinery of facial recognition the Ark of the Covenant. The the origin of black holes all of this in a fun and easily digestible way You know that's just not their thing. We're much much much better at the Seoul Science podcasting thing so in summary. Think von for all Your Business. Communication stuff thinks stuff to blow your mind for scientific topics. Von Edge. Now we're talking though.

Coming up next