The Spirit of the Mountain
by Jan Smuts
[Extract from a speech by Jan Smuts when he unveiled the Mountain Club War Memorial on the summit of Table Mountain in 1923]
In Loving Memory of Jannie Graaff
The Mountain is not merely something eternally sublime. It has a great historical and spiritual meaning for us. It stands for us as the ladder of life. Nay, more, it is the great ladder of the soul, and in a curious way the source of religion. From it came the Law, from it came the Gospel in the Sermon on the Mount. We may truly say that the highest religion is the Religion of the Mountain.
What is that religion? When we reach the mountain summit we leave behind us all the things that weigh heavily, down below, on our body and our spirit. We leave behind a feeling of weakness and depression; we feel a new freedom, a great exhilaration, an exaltation of the body no less than of the spirit. We feel a great joy.
The Religion of the Mountain is in reality the religion of joy, of the release of the soul from the things that weigh it down and fill it with a sense of weariness, sorrow and defeat.
The religion of joy realises the freedom of the soul, the soul’s kinship to the great creative spirit, and its dominance over all the things of sense. As the body has escaped from the overweight and depression of the sea, so the soul must be released from all sense of weariness, weakness and depression arising from the fret, worry and friction of our daily lives.
We must feel that we are above it all, that the soul is essentially free, and in freedom realises the joy of living.