Metta Walk – Bringing Metta Round The World (MRTW) to the top of Mt. Kinabalu - A Personal Experience by Sis. Mudita Loh
MRTW was transformed to a higher level, literally speaking through Metta Walk undertaken by two of my kalyana mitras – Sis. Ong Siew Peng, Sis. Bodhini Tee and my son – Rakkhita Chong. The mission to bring metta to one of the top of South East Asia’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu 13,435 feet above sea level, was led by Sister Sumangala, our spiritual companion.
The start of this challenging climb started at exactly 8.30 am on a Tuesday morning, 13 Nov. 2012. This is very significant as it happens to be Deepavali signifying victory of good over evil. After a good night’s rest at Bishop’s Head Rest House, a light breakfast and some warm ups, the only thing we brought along with us was METTA – loving kindness. The words of the Karaniya Metta Sutta rang in our ears and hearts as we had devotedly chanted this sutta and radiated METTA – loving kindness the previous evening and shortly before the start of our climb from the Mesilau summit trail (10.7km). This trail is 2 km longer than the Timpohon summit trail (8.7km). Mesilau trail at kilometer 6 will meet Timpohon trail at kilometer 4 before ascending to Laban Rata Rest House.
We were always tested with this question, “Are you sure you want to climb from the Mesilau Trail, the longer route!”
Sister Sumangala reminded us, “You see, you have 2 km of bonus experience and when you descend following the Timpohon Trail, you are enriched and will understand both trails that leads to the peak.” Be respectful to all beings in the jungle and remember to put METTA in action – one step at a time!
All of us walked mindfully all the way one step at a time ascending – stopping to take some deep breaths after every 100 step (having METTA for ourselves). The path on the trail varies from muddy to stoney steps and a wooden staircase. From the summit gate’s starting point to kilometer 1, to kilometer 2, to kilometer 3, the steps continued, the altitude rising with each step.
We consoled him – although it’s 8 km, just take the next 100 step in front of you. Keep moving on, each step will bring you to the peak! As everyone moved forward, he had no other choice but to move forward with us.
At kilometer 2 we were very thirsty and our ranger, Square and potter, Relative (they sure have unusual names) were still behind us. Rakkhita was really thirsty and kept asking for water. Out of compassion I sought help from other climber, a Muslim brother who was resting at the “pondok” to lend me a bottle of water and he kindly gave me one. After taking slow and small sips, our potter finally came. With gratitude, I gave him a bottle of 100 plus. He was very happy and his friends were teasing him about his luck – “give a bottle of water and get a bottle of 100 plus in return.” They were laughing and saying, “where to find such luck? And they went further, “Just like saving 1000 ringgit in the bank and getting extra interest.” We too laughed together with them. “An act of giving stems from a sense of METTA’. It was a jovial encounter.
It was also helpful to learn that when you are taking a rest to catch up with your “oxygen” to METTA the body, it is not advisable to sit down and take too long a break. Just 3-5 minutes standing upright, relaxing and taking a few deep breaths, then moving on with your climb. The reason is when METTA muscles are warming up, when you rest for too long, it gets cold and frozen and can lead to leg cramp and a low spirit! Thus, doing what’s right is indeed very healing. It kept us healthy and happy. We realized that for each kilometer, we took about 1 hour with around 1,900 METTA steps of determination and patience. There is always METTA around us. Even the “buzzing bee” that followed us for a while received our good wishes and friendliness, left us in peace!