Metta Walk – Bringing Metta Round The World (MRTW) to the top of Mt. Kinabalu - A Personal Experience by Sis. Mudita Loh
It was still very misty. The sun rose just for a few seconds. By following the rope on the granite floor we continued our journey. As we can’t see anything, we had this sense of losing our focus. “Why did I pay to suffer?”
By this time there were climbers who had reached Low’s Peak earlier and were now descending. They reached the peak but could only see the spot as it was very misty! However, some of them encouraged us to move on – telling us IT’S VERY NEAR! Is this true?
We continued our climb, engulfed in the gray mist. After passing kilometer 7.5, we were astounded. Just like the curtain of a stage opening up for the show to begin, “the mist cleared stage by stage showing us the magnificent panoramic mountain view. “Wow… We were on cloud nine – the sea of white clouds with the silver lining of the sun surrounding the mountain. It was so beautiful. It was as if we were in heaven. Then one by one, the peak appeared – the South Peak, the Donkey Ear Peak, the St. John’s Peak and yes, our goal, the highest peak – “Low’s Peak”. The sky was bright and clear and we could enjoy the magnificent view of being on top of the sacred mountain named Kinabalu. The climbers who started at 2.30 am missed this magnificent sight as it was very misty earlier. We contemplated, “there is always the right time, right place and right person” for a phenomena to happen and we were blessed with the right condition.
We rejoiced at the sight of the beautiful scenery. It gave us the push to reach what we were witnessing at the moment – the highest peak, our goal. Part 2 of the climb was shorter compared to Part 1 but it was tougher as the air was thinner – less oxygen. The same feeling crept into me again while I was about 300 metres from Low’s peak. My head started to become dull. I almost gave up while I was at the Summit Plateau as I felt very sleepy. Very… very sleepy. What more when I recalled what a climber told me earlier – that there was really nothing much to see at the top of the peak and I was late. I can still stop and turn back if I wanted to. I found a reason to give up! This foolish thought was so real and strong.
As I was having this thought, my teacher and my pillar of strength, Sister Sumangala appeared and prompted me about my well being. She explained to me why I am sleepy, then massaged my neck and taught me how to breathe to overcome the sleepiness. Finally, she reminded me not to give up (although I did not tell her) and to take small mindful METTA steps until I reach the peak. I realized that the external beauty of the surrounding was only a temporary joy. In order to reach the goal – the peak, my own personal determination is not enough. I require timely encouragement – physically, mentally and spiritually from a spiritual companion to make it possible.
Gaining my strength again, I continued to climb with small little steps. This time Sister Sumangala followed me from the back. It was a rocky climb to the peak. The nearer I got to the peak, the more energetic I became. Finally, I managed to step on the peak of Mt. Kinabalu. I can’t believe my eyes. I’m on the peak! I felt I was on the top of the world. Yes. I did it, at 8.10am, 14 Nov 2012.
I was above the clouds and I was so grateful to Sister Sumangala and my other kalyana mitras for helping me through this challenging climb. As we were late (or rather it’s meant to be – timely), we had the luxury of time to pay homage to the Buddha, to contemplate on the qualities of the Triple Gem and to recite the Karaniya Metta Sutta, to share merits and radiate METTA. Yes. The vision and mission of METTA walk was completed. The Dhammacakra flag flip joyfully. May every metta step we take, bring in a METTA mitra. May the Metta Round the World Project and may the Mitraville Project be carried out smoothly and successfully for the wellbeing, benefit and happiness of the many.
Having fulfilled and realized our goal we descended from the peak. Now, we started to feel very hungry. We stopped and ate our energy bar and drank some glucose. Reality set in again. We still have to descend another 2.7 km to Laban Rata for our “brunch” and then another 6 km to the Timpohon Gate (the final part). I really did not know how to go down as my legs were kind of numb. How I wish we could have a short nap. But we have to descend and continue to descend. We packed our things at Laban Rata and had a quick lunch, very mindful of the time and the need to be consistent; otherwise it will be very dark and late. This reminded us of, “when one finally reach the peak, one must also know how to descend to the base.” Again Sister Sumangala kept reminding us not to worry as we will be alright. The blessings of the Triple Gem and the protection from the devas were with us and as long as we descend mindfully, one step at a time – we will reach another goal Timpohon Gate.
From Laban Rata, we started descending at 1.30 pm. It had started to rain by now and with our three quarter rain coat, we walked in the rain, wet at the lower part of the legs. The new challenge begun as our knees and toes were the target of pressure. We kept on walking and descending confidently – not forgetting that it was a METTA walk, one step at a time. Along the way we saw things that we have never seen – a giant blue earth worm and a pink worm with flat head – each 2 feet long.
We were also careful not to step on the brown frogs on the rock and steps along our path. By 5.30 pm the sky became darker and we walked in the darkness with our headlamps radiating METTA with only one mission – Timpohon Gate. There was no fear in our hearts as we plodded in the dark, through the mud and rocks. Time passed and the kilometer became less and less. Alas, we saw light in the darkness. We reached Timpohon Gate at about 7.50 pm and were transferred to the HQ Park. We received our certificate of completion to Mount Kinabalu Peak– not only one but two, because we survived both trails – Mesilau and Timpohon Trails. Interestingly, we had been walking for exactly 24 hours up and down. As for the steps, averagely (10.7 km x 1900) + (8.7 km x 1900) = 19,900 + 16,530 = altogether around 36, 430 steps.
We were transported back to Kota Kinabalu that night itself. We thoroughly dozed off during the two hour ride down to Kota Kinabalu town! When we checked into The Courtyard Hotel, there were so many kind METTA mitras waiting for us – all ready with offers of massage and joint pain cream. We really appreciated their offer. However, we applied the simple principle of putting both our legs up before we retiring for the night and it worked miraculously. We slept well and the next morning – no one walked like a crab.