In the very quote that inspired the title of this blog, Rene Daumal penned a profound though: “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again.”
The purpose of the climb is to reach the summit and to see. Then one must climb again but downward to return and live according to what the climb revealed. The summit is not actually the end or the destination, but the halfway point. Life itself is a climb, but so are individual pursuits for truth.
You were never meant to stay there and you cannot survive there, even though it is beautiful and you can see much better than you can below.
Rene suggested that “There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.” and that “When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
You’ll notice that none of the ordinances of the gospel imply that you have permanently “arrived”. After baptism, you come up out of the water and back into life, after the sacrament you go home and start your labors again the next day, and after a temple session you leave the Celestial Room and return to the “Telestial” world.
What is the point of this?
My good friend and old Institute teacher had a saying that he picked up from his grandmother: “The temple is like a great mold; the more your pour yourself into it, the more you become like it.”
Each time we climb, we are supposed to see and take back with us a knowledge of higher things to put into practice down below. Are we are stuck at the top? How many tarried for a while and returned empty-handed? The climb itself may not bring knowledge but it always generates strength. The purpose of the climb is to receive and not to demand, we must be content with what the master is willing to give us in his wisdom.
“There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions…” we get to try what we learned, we get to make mistakes, and keep practicing. Covered by grace, our mistakes are acceptable only as we repent, learn from them, and are perpetually willing to allow ourselves to change.