A mountain peak is something that climbers strive to attain, and when they make it to the top, the view is breathtaking. They climb in order to see the view, and on the way, they pit themselves against the elements and face physical and mental hardships, so when they achieve their goal, their sense of satisfaction and relief is huge.
Sogyal Rinpoche in his book, ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,’ (p55) tells the story of the thick headed disciple who, even after many teachings on meditation, did not experience the true nature of his mind—the purpose of meditation. His teacher told him to take a bag of barley and, without stopping, climb to the top of a mountain. The disciple trusted his teacher, so he took the heavy bag and climbed. As he walked, the bag seemed to get heavier but, following his teacher’s instructions, he didn’t stop. He kept going, and finally, after a long time, he reached the top and dropped the bag. As Sogyal Rinpoche tells it:
“He slumped to the ground, overcome with exhaustion but deeply relaxed. He felt the fresh mountain air on his face. All his resistance had dissolved and, with it, his ordinary mind. Everything just seemed to stop. At that instant, he suddenly realised the nature of mind. “Ah! This is what my master has been showing me all along,” he thought. He ran back down the mountain, and, against all convention, burst into his master’s room.
“I think I’ve got it now … I’ve really got it!”
His master smiled at him knowingly: “So you had an interesting climb up the mountain, did you?””
Rinpoche goes on to say that all of us can have this experience, which is why I say about the Diamond Peak Series: These are no ordinary books. The magic within them is real. The powers of the characters are within your grasp,
and their success can be yours.
In some ways, we are all that thick-headed disciple. The essential nature of our mind is our natural mind state, but we obscure it with an unceasing round-about of thoughts. If we could only let those thoughts dissolve, we could experience this natural state of peace and clarity, but in order to do that, we have to stop and operate our mind in a completely different way. We have to train our mind to focus inwards on its true nature, not outwards on the projections of our neurotic mind. We have to meditate.
Many of us know the benefits of meditation, but still we don’t do it, or we do it sporadically. When we experience our natural state unfettered by thoughts and negative emotions, we wonder why we don’t remain in that state all the time, but our habits pull us out again. That natural state is the state of enlightenment, a state where we are always good, always well and always wise. It’s the state we’re all looking for whether we know it or not. All religions have some way of expressing the same thing. It’s our search for God, for unconditional love, for union with the universe. We all have tastes of it, but we don’t all recognise what we’re tasting when we do. That’s why Buddhists have teachers to help us understand and experience this state.
That’s why Ariel and Nick, the heroine and hero of the Diamond Peak Series, have a mountain guide, and Walnut is as wise and crazy as the best of the Tibetan tradition of crazy wisdom masters. He guides them along the path and through challenges that reflect the human struggle with the demons at the core of all our troubles—our negative emotions.
This is the general symbolism of Ariel and Nick’s journey to the top of Diamond Peak. It is their journey to enlightenment, and the path they take is the path taken by all who follow the Vajrayana Buddhist teachings. Reading this series will help you understand this tradition—it’s like a translation into ordinary terms—and it will give you inspiration, education and even experience of the teachings.
Symbolism in literature is commonplace and it is also used widely in Tibetan Buddhist art. Analogy is also used in stories t0 illustrate points of Buddhist philosophy and practice. So as a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, it is natural that this story has both analogy and symbolism. For this reason, the work is magical realism as well as fantasy. It is also metaphysical fiction, and for those with the background that allows them to recognise the symbolism, it is also Buddhist fiction. Because the work is multi-layered with meaning, although the main protagonist is seventeen, the story is as much for eighty year olds as it is for fifteen year olds. Anyone interested in the Buddhist path to enlightenment will find this enlightening.