“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
It’s been four years since I’ve been home for Christmas.
Concerned with the direction my life is going in the discovery of my self (unemployed, dallying in mountains, meditating with crystal skulls, now working in a pawn shop), I think its safe to expect an earful from my conservative family. Yet despite our differences, I’ve honestly never been so excited to put my “career” on hold to see them, I am going to Sri Lanka!
Often referred to as the Pearl, Rain Drop, Tear Drop, and Shangri La of the Indian Ocean; This is a beautiful island of bright colors, lush greens, and spices. Ravaged by civil wars and natural disasters, this is also a place of sadness and hope.
Located in the Central Highlands of the Sabaragamuwa Province, about five hours east of Colombo, also known in Sinhalese as Samanalakanda (Butterfly Mountain), lies Adam’s Peak, Sri Pada.
Visible from the ocean and shaped like a perfect pyramid, beneath the summit lies the “sacred footprint” rock formation believed by Buddhist’s to be the footprint of Buddha. With origins also linked to Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, Hindu’s believe that this is the footprint of Shiva; Muslims,the footprint of Adam when he was cast from the Garden of Eden; Christians, the footprint of Saint Thomas.
Regardless of whose footprint it is, every year thousands of Pilgrims from all religions flock to climb the treacherous trail, with the purpose of reaching the top for Sunrise. Hosting sacred powers and sublime views, Pilgrims are warned to never confess out loud the self’s “inability” to reach the summit, or else the Guardian of the Mountain will curse ones legs to ascend no further, only descend; And those who embark on this venture should be prepared to meet their maker, for whoever reaches the top, divine rewards await.
Immediately dreaming of another Peruvian experience, I learned that this was the complete opposite. There are mass crowds of cows, donkey’s, men and women carrying entire families on their backs, people stuck to the ground because of the “curse”… One will spend an hour waiting to move one step… Together with the smells, this was a circus they would never partake in again. (Great)
However… Legend states that the more people present for the experience, the better (glad I kept reading). Considered tests of virtue; The divine journey requires tolerance, patience, and a very balanced inner core (clearly).
Factoring in the accounts of difficulty in comparison to the Inca trail, I couldn’t help but see the parallels suggesting the rewards are as spiritually divine as described. Substitute the rain, and high altitudes with mass crowds, and stinky waste… these are all tests of one’s spiritual and physical self. Through obstacles one is exhausted and weakened to recognize the divine power of one’s true self that gets one to the top, if one wills it.
Together with the inexplicable “sacred” history from the “heavens”, its shape is that of a perfect Pyramid, divine rewards await for those who reach the top, and I’m to be in the vicinity just at the close of one of life’s full circles … Sri Pada has officially begun calling out my name.
I leave for Sri Lanka in two days.
I am climbing the Butterfly Mountain.
“Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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10 thoughts on “The Butterfly Mountain”
ooo! I did a report on Sri Lanka in high school. I still remember it. Bizarrely I took a cab ride from a Sri Lankan man one day. He was so appreciative that someone knew about it. It looks absolutely beautiful from the photos. I hope to see some posted!!! Have fun!
I’m half Sri Lankan so I can agree with your cabbie, we are very appreciative of those who know their Geography 😉 I’ll definitely have more pictures in my next post! Thank you for taking the time to read this!
Beautifully written and the picture has a very mystic touch to it.
When I learned that the peak was in the shape of a perfect pyramid, and this is what happens on a clear sunrise, my calling only became that much stronger! Thank you for taking the time to read this and for commenting, I’m glad you enjoyed!
This sounds amAzing! What a great adventure! I think the direction your life is going right now is the only direction it needs to be going. I like the Sri Pada idea because there’s a certain perpective that’s felt whenever we stand in front of something very large and feel very small. I’ll definitely have to add Sri Pada to the list of places to see. Have a great, and enlightening, trip!
Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more, the perspective one gains when standing in front of something so large (and historic) is incredible! Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and for taking the time to read this post!
You convey your excitement about going to Sri Lanka so beautifully and honestly. I have never been to Sri Lanka myself, but would love to go one day. I hope you will have a wonderful time.
Thank you Otto! I would absolutely LOVE to see you photograph this place, so I hope you make it to Sri Lanka one day as well! 🙂
I have many times thought about visiting Sri Lanka, but so far it hasn’t happened. I will one day, though, it looks like a fantastic country.
By the way: Merry Christmas to you!