Light of the Masters Series-Part I
Ascending To The Summit of Humility:

The First Dimension of Knowing

By Val Jon Farris


“I want to invite you on an expedition. The sojourn I have in mind is to seven ethereal summits; a ring of peaks that rise into the heavens like a jeweled crown of the Gods. Unlike the view from Everest, K2, or Whitney, however, these mountaintops reveal the terrain that lies between the peaks of universal spirit and the valleys of human behavior. The seven peaks, or “dimensions of knowing” as I call them, are Humility, Eternality, Truth, Passion, Sovereignty, Faith and Service.”

Each dimension reveals a unique facet of human behavior and offers wisdom and guidance for dealing with the challenges we must face in our daily lives. A “dimension” is a world unto itself filled with unique magical elements. If you’ve ever stood atop a mountain and gazed out over the curve of the earth, you know about     dimensions. Their magic is stunning as it vaporizes the clouds of distraction, obligation and worry. In the “rare air of the moment,” you suddenly merge in blissful unity with the majesty before you.

Fortunately, you don’t need to climb Mt. Everest to reach the rare air provided by the dimensions of knowing. You do, however, need to be willing to explore the heights of your own heart and soul. To get there, allow me to  recount for you a climb I recently did to the top of Mt. Shasta. If you’re ready, pack up your gear, grab your glacier glasses, and let’s begin our ascent to the summit of the first dimension of knowing, Humility.

The full moon casts a bluish glow over the near vertical  glacier we cling to. At about twelve thousand feet, the climb team spots a massive fissure running diagonally across the ice. We traverse around its left edge and then cross back above it. Climbing to the   center of the open slope, we gain some distance and all seems well. Suddenly the crampon on my left boot pops loose from my boot, and I lose my footing. I instinctively grab for my ice axe and prepare to brake, but I land hard on my back and it bounces loose from my hands. White terror rages in my mind as I careen out of control toward my death!

Suddenly I smash into something hard and stop abruptly. Blinded by snow and numb with fear, I lay helpless. Then it hits me. My team just saved my life. Forming a human net below me, they caught my sliding body just a few feet before hurling over the edge into the abyss. At this point I’m stunned, embarrassed and feeling very vulnerable. Needing help always seems like a sign of weakness, so this incident is deeply disturbing for me.

“We’ve got ya! Hold on buddy, we’re not gonna let you fall!”

“Thanks everybody, I can take it from here,” I respond.

“Lay still, you’re pushing us back into the crevasse!” Hank barks at me.

“No, really, I’m okay now. I’ll be fine now.”

“Stop wiggling around or you’re gonna push us all over the edge,” another climber shouts.

Finally getting the message, I relax and let them reattach my crampon and straighten my gear. As they stand me up and reassure me, I realize it is almost impossible for people to support me. Suddenly tears come to my eyes as I see how many times in my life I haven’t let others help me. I would always say, “No problem, I can do it myself.” I didn’t want to burden anyone or put  anyone out. Most of all, I worried that if I let someone support me, I would be obligated to them in the future. Looking into the tear-filled faces of my climbing partners, however, I see superimposed images of family members, friends, and past relationships that I had alienated with my stubborn independence. I reflect on the pain and   frustration that not being able to help me must have caused them. Clinging to life here with my friends I realize I have a choice: I can hide behind my rugged armor, or I can open myself to their concern and love. I choose to open up, and as I do, a flood of emotion fills me. For the first time in my life I am able to see that accepting help from someone is not a sign of weakness, but rather a demonstration of humility. I also realize that rather than being a burden to people when I’m in need, it allows others to feel worthwhile through offering their support. My armor of rugged individualism is finally cracking. I now understand that being open and accepting support is a very important part of life. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, it simply means I’m human.

Regrouping and without further incident, we make our way to the summit where a crystalline blue sky embraces the curve of the earth. Shining, sunburned faces grin from ear to ear in a blissful exchange of laughter and tears. After celebrating our accomplishment, we begin the ritual of reading and signing the register book that rests atop most climbable mountains on earth. Each member of our team, like those before us, takes the opportunity to write a dedication. I flip through the book’s yellowed pages and my eyes fall on a passage written October 23, 1972. I’ll never forget what I read:

 I dedicate this climb to you, Father. I am standing at the top of Mount Shasta today because of the love and support you gave me as I was growing up. It is through your commitment and dedication to me as your son that I am able to view the beauty before me. And although you lost your legs in the Korean War and have never been able to stand beside me, Dad, I want you to know that today I stand on the top of this mountain for both of us. I love you with all my heart and all my soul, your son John.  

Clutching the register book to my chest, my throat constricts and a flood of humility fills me. I now see that my arrogance, my need to be strong, and my rugged individualism gets in the way of creating rich and meaningful relationships. When I come down from this mountaintop, I’m going to express my appreciation and love for my friends, my family, and for new people I meet. I’m going to take to heart the power of this remarkable dimension of knowing called Humility.

Join me next time for a mind-blowing journey into the second dimension of knowing, Eternality. Together we will travel to the far-off lands of Southern India where holy master, Sai Baba, defies the laws of physics and enraptures multitudes of spiritual seekers.

Val Jon Farris is a behavioral scientist and spiritual anthropologist who travels the world exploring  ancient ruins and mystical cultures. This article has been excerpted from his new book Inca Fire! Light of the Masters, which is available at all bookstores or on the web at


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