In 1923, a New York Times reporter asked British mountaineer George Mallory why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.
“Because it’s there.”
What a reply!
The first time I heard it—probably during my junior high years—I dismissed it as totally lame. But somehow the words stuck with me, and I’ve pondered them many times since.
I should admit up front that I am afraid of heights—and also many other things associated with climbing mountains of Everest’s ilk, such as avalanches, frostbite and death. This has doubtless colored my ponderings of Mallory’s remark.
Sometimes I’ve thought it was quite clever of him to appear to give an answer when, in fact, there was no possible answer—not unless he was willing to admit to being a bit deranged. Other times I’ve thought the question may have annoyed him, and that what he really wanted to say to the reporter was, “Because it’s there, you ignorant twit.”
Now, however, I find Mallory’s reply profound, even primally so.
As in: Why do I feel compelled to study invisible energy when I could be doing something easier and more fun—and less bewildering to my family and friends?
Because it’s there.
Because I have felt things I didn’t think it was possible to feel, because one energy discovery leads to another, because qigong is opening a door into a new way of experiencing reality.
Yes, doing qigong can be wondrously transporting. And yes, I believe there have been benefits to my physical and emotional health.
But mostly I pursue qigong because it and the energies it works with are there. How could I not want to walk through the door labeled “qi”?
I started my latest round of pondering “because it’s there” when I started reading Damo Mitchell’s “Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change,” a book recommended by a reader of this blog. I am now reading it a second time, trying to figure out what I read the first time and how it relates to Yi Ren Qigong, the system of qigong I study and will soon also be teaching.
Mitchell is a longtime practitioner and teacher of nei gong, an internal cultivation practice that seems to pick up where basic qigong leaves off—and he’s a Brit. He presents nei gong in a straightforward, systematic, thoroughly western manner. He describes a series of practices, what you will experience at each stage and what will be happening at the various levels of your being.
The book is scarcely beach-blanket reading, but I find it riveting. Mitchell lays it all out—and “it” is mind-bendingly enormous. Like Mount Everest must seem when standing at its base.
And “it” seems every bit as real and as “there” as Mount Everest.
Sometimes I wonder why other people don’t find experiencing what lies beyond the physical manifestations of energy as compelling as I do. After all, it’s there!!!
But then, you won’t find me roping up anytime soon….
NOTE: For reviews of “Daoist Nei Gong” or to purchase it through my web site from amazon.com, click here.