The Challenges of Climbing Your Mountain

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Every week readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

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This week's newsletter is about the 5 challenges that every mountain has. It's the ending of last week's "Climbing Your Mountain".

Here's a quick recap:

Mountains are the huge long term goals that change your life. An example is pursuing financial freedom.

Each mountain has a path, which is how you choose to pursue that goal. An example is starting a business.

There are three signs that you may have come across your mountain:

  1. You obsess about what your life would be like after accomplishing the goal.
  2. It's impactful enough that you wonder if you're cut out to pursue it.
  3. The thought of starting is daunting and overwhelming.

The 5 Challenges

These 5 challenges were presented by the Shaolin Monk, Shi Heng Yi. He said in the Shao Lin temple, they describe them as different states of the mind that make it hard to see clearly and engage in the right decisions.

These challenges try to prevent you from moving forward and climbing your mountain.

1 Sensual Desire [Kamacchanda]

This is a small challenge with a significant impact. It's when you distract yourself by paying attention to something that's giving you a positive emotion through your 5 senses.

When you follow that temptation, you get off track. When the temptation becomes so strong that you don't want to disengage anymore, the sensual desire has turned into an obsession. Remaining in this state means you'll never climb your mountain.


While trying to change your diet, you have a cheat meal. That cheat meal takes you off track. When that turns into binge eating and ignoring your diet, it becomes an obsession.

Engaging in sensual desires and letting them become obsessions makes it hard for you to see clearly and make the right choices to climb your mountain.

2 Ill Will [Byapada]

Ill will is a state of mind where you have an aversion, rejection, or dislike against an object, situation, or person.

Every mountain worth climbing is going to give you a hard time. If you respond to these hard times with ill will, it's likely you'll never overcome them, and you'll stop climbing your mountain.

Simply put, it’s like you are climbing a mountain, and it starts to rain, but you don't like rain. Or you have to eat dried food, but you don't like dried food.

How you respond to these situations determines the success of your climb.

3 Heaviness and dullness [Thinamiddah]

This challenge is described as heaviness of the body and dullness of the mind. It's when you lack the motivation and energy to make any mental or physical efforts.

In Buddhism, they describe this state as imprisonment. It pauses the progress of your mountain climb.

The most common versions of this state that people get trapped in are fear and laziness.

4 Restlessness [Uddhacca]

This is the state of an unsettled mind. Your mind is worrying about the future or travelling to the past, unable to stay present for too long.

The problem is that you don't see clearly when you do this.

When you're never focused on the present, you can't engage in the decisions that help you climb your mountain.

5 Skeptical doubt [Vicikiccha]

The final challenge is a state of mind based on indecisiveness. In this state of mind, you get lost in thoughts of doubt. Thoughts like "Can I do this? Is this the right path? What will others say/think?".

The problem is that your mind can't synchronize with your own actions. You're trying to do something but convincing yourself that you can't at the same time. It causes you to get disconnected from your goals and aspirations.

When you enter this state of mind, you get halted in your journey. You can't make progress until you overcome these thoughts.

These 5 challenges are a collection of traps and vicious cycles. The best thing to do is structure and align your life to prevent them from happening.

If you do get caught in one though, Shi Heng Yi suggests using a four-step method to escape:

  1. Recognize what state of mind (challenge) you're in.
  2. Acknowledge, accept, and allow the situation to be how it is.
  3. Ask questions about your emotional and mental state: Why did the challenge come up? What is the consequence if I remain in this state/challenge?
  4. Practice non-identification. You're not how your body feels, what your mind thinks, or the emotions you have. Recognize you are not the situation you're in.

This weeks quote

All of our lives are too unique to copy the path of someone else. To bring meaning into your life, to bring value into your life, you need to learn and master yourself. - Master Shi Heng Yi

In this quote, he talks about the concept of clarity and self-mastery (a future newsletter topic). To explain it briefly, it's when you understand yourself to the highest capacity possible.

When you reach this point, you can distinguish on your own the right direction and decisions to make in your life—There's no need to follow or believe what anyone else says.

Life is too special to spend it on someone else's path.

This weeks question

Is the path you're on right now your own?

My answer:

It's a mix between my own direction and decisions and external influence. On one hand, I'm in university studying to become an accountant. On the other hand, I'm trying to grow Steady Fella and my presence on Twitter.

The accounting career path is influenced financially, by society, and partially by me. My Steady Fella and Twitter endeavours are influenced solely by me and my desire to personally grow, and share what I learn along the way.