Actions Speak Louder than Words

from Swami Kriyananda about his friend Arne Lipovec (Brother Premamoy)

A friend of mine was an alpinist and made many first ascensions in Europe. One day he climbed a mountain that, viewed from below, had seemed feasible. He had nearly reached the summit, when, standing on a narrow ledge, he realized it was impossible to climb any further. Above him the mountainside sloped outward, forming a final lip. To get over it he would have to go upside down for a little time, hanging over space. Without specialized equipment, of which he had none, it was quite impossible!

It was equally impossible, however, to climb back down the steep cliff he’d ascended. Barely possible to ascend, retreat would have meant looking down to see where to place each footstep. Again: Quite impossible!

Faced with this utterly hopeless situation, he told himself, “I might as well die trying as die here from starvation and exposure!” He set out, therefore, to make the impossible ascent. As soon as his body reached the beginning of that outward curve, he fell back onto the ledge. Well, what else was there to do? He tried again. Then yet again. How many “yet agains” he attempted he could not say exactly, but the number was more than twenty.

“Yet again”: Suddenly, at the point where his body had always fallen, a force pushed him against the mountainside, and held him securely there. The force continued to hold him until he had climbed over the lip of rock, and reached the summit. From that point, it was easy for him to walk down the slope on the other side.

Not every prayer is vocalized. Sometimes it is simply the urgent sense of need one feels in times of desperation—provided one’s thoughts are offered upward, to God. My friend’s prayer was his uplifted courage in the face of absolute and inevitable defeat. Perhaps even the need to continue upward brought that sense of mental upliftment that is the essential ingredient of effective prayer.