Type of Spiritual Experience
Although the excerpt may not state this explicitly, Messner was accompanied for most of the time on his descent of Nanga Parbat, by a ‘third man’. This third man, as he says in his description was him, but it was actually his Higher spirit. During this excerpt he also goes out of body and becomes his higher spirit watching himself as it descends. I have put this in italics
A description of the experience
In the morning I went down. I had run out of places to look [for his brother Gunther] and did not know what to do. Strung out by lack of sleep and anxiety l drifted into unconsciousness.
When I awoke I was completely drained. I felt groggy as if I was coming round after a general anaesthetic, as if I had forgotten everything. My head felt as if it was full of cotton wool, my brain numb. I could not even cry. I was unsure of who I really was. Summoning my last vestiges of reason – I managed to understand that the third man was just me watching myself from a different plane of existence.
The avalanche debris was still in shadows.
'Gunther’ - I shouted again, but there was only silence. The sun was bathing the tops of the Mazeno ridge and the weather seemed to be improving. High up the valley the first blue plumes of morning mist were rising. I wondered how far away from any other people I was.
'Gunther!' My shouts were pure reflex now.
The other climber was back again but he no longer had a voice. He came down the avalanche chute, ice axe in hand and headed for the valley. He glanced back but there was nothing moving, no sign of life, nothing. The sun was shining down on the valley.
But it was not shining for me.
As if in a trance, I watched the third man as he made his descent, stumbling along, searching for a route between the seracs. Ice axe clenched in his hand, his eyes screwed up into narrow slits, he swayed and staggered on the ice. The skin hung in tatters from his nose. His lips and eyes were badly swollen. He seemed to be moving automatically, without thinking.
I had been making my way down since the sun had come onto the Diamir Face. I had no idea where I was going. I was apathetic, aimless, empty. I felt as if I had forgotten everything. I had never been on Nanga Parbat – no, never - and Gunther had never existed. There had never been anyone there, not even me. I felt ready to die.
The source of the experienceMessner, Reinhold
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
Reinhold Messner – The Naked Mountain