To work and make money is a goal we can all talk about, to buy real estate and get married are topics every one is interested in, but to talk about a spiritual goal hardly has any takers for a discussion. Yet it is a fight at some point in everyone's mind to want to know what spiritualism is.
What is illusion, inner soul and the beauty of enlightenment? What do we mean when we say these words, what are we meant to experience? Going to a temple in the city and having a glimpse of the Lord is not going to get us the answer. How do we even try to remotely get to this experience?
The only answer that hits my mind to get a glimpse of this supernatural effect is a visit to Tungnath or Mount Kailasa or some such remote place. I am sure that other places can, in some form render the same result, but a difficult trek to Tungnath or Kailasa are sure hits. Why? Because when the mind decides to do this journey it has agreed that its going to be physically challenging, it does not promise a darshan in winter and therefore time of the year matters and by the time we even get a glimpse of the destination, the mind and the body have had enough but the only energy that rules is the emotion to achieve the pilgrimage.
Let’s start from the beginning, gathering information on any of these two journeys defines that the weather may not support the trip and there is room for a flop. Just viewing pictures gives a rough indication that these treks are long and pains taking and there is hardly any help in the way. The altitude gives a feeling of distance from comfort that it results in mental detachment from all materialism, all emotion, and all attachment. The very fact that the mind decided to do this trek means that the emotions and the soul are ready to have a glimpse of this superior power.
At the foothills, before we begin the actual journey, the heart is overwhelmed that we made it this far, the mind is exhausted and can’t really entertain thoughts anymore. The difficulty now is the trek. Bleak regions, strong winds, bring the raw forces of nature close to us, so close that the familiarity of civilized life is a distant memory. Here there is only one thought - the discovery and the experience of the unknown. What stands in front of us is a snow capped mountain, cold, formidable, silent and powerful. And the only pool of resources we have is the fast diminishing reserves of energy within us. Food is brought down to the basic minimum and water may be hard to find and what’s more - money cant buy us anything here. Credit cards are a piece of junk here; because the rules that work here are very different. This is the first realization of detachment. This is also the first realization of freedom.
As we take each step, the body begins to tire but the beauty of the region is a treat to the eye. The freedom to be in a land so bleak, the achievement to have fulfilled the wish to be here to imbibe the beauty of this land is a great feeling indeed. We can simply feel free to experience the power of this earth. How do we understand this power? Scaling these heights or even attempting to do the parikrama is a tedious effort of time, physical energy that is being squeezed out of every bone in the body to move the foot to the next step. All we have is the sheer will power to achieve this goal or overcome this challenge. We can look at it either way. Tungnath certainly doesn’t give the impression of easy enlightenment, its a difficult up slope trek that makes you, breaks you, exhausts you even before you made it to half the mark and we still do not have any sight of the temple. Kailasa parvat on the other side gives you a distant glimpse of its enormity and tells you to go home but doesn’t let you come any closer. In either case there is a realm of curiosity that is teased, the need to discover is prolonged and desire to break loose from the shackles of our existence and be one with the forces of nature can be reasonably enormous. Here too there is a strong echo of the dualism of life; this journey gives us the dual experience of frustration and spiritual bliss at the same time.
The whole trek becomes a selfless journey of love, a churn of the mind and the body as it works its way up the spiritual grind of churning out the self from within. This emotion that floats to the surface of oneself is described very beautifully in a verse written by Thirumular.
Lord stands as Ghee in milk
He is Mukti, Jnana and Nada
That in the three branches of knowledge resound [poetry, music and dance]
Thus they praise the Lord
Through time unending;
As the ghee within milk
The pure one within them stands
That light they seek not and love not 
Just as ghee belongs to the essence of milk, it floats on the surface of the milk untouched and unmoved. It is pure and concentrated and yet it doesn’t dissolve into the depths of the milk itself. Similarly the emotion of joy and supreme bliss that is felt on getting the closest view and discovering the Lord at these sacred shrines is an extraction from the process of churning the body, mind and emotions to reveal that we possess it. Once its out it floats of the surface of the milk of our existence, of our conscious self it is there to be experienced in all its purity and when it is experienced, what results is a tear of the overwhelming emotion of love.