Why does Mount Kilimanjaro feature so prominently in the personal philosophy of Doctor Haresh Mirani?
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and probably one of the most accessible of the world’s big mountains. It is located in Tanzania, just south of the equator, meaning that the climatic conditions associated with its 19,308 ft are in general milder than mountains of similar dimension in the northern hemisphere.
Doctor Mirani’s interest in Kilimanjaro began soon after he suffered a traumatic motor vehicle accident that left him partially disabled. Searching for some definitive challenge to renew his sense of purpose, he discovered Kilimanjaro through reading Michael Crichton’s personal travelogue, Travels. Here Crichton’s ascent of Kilimanjaro is described in both physical and metaphysical terms – and indeed much of the book has an esoteric texture which Doctor Mirani responded to as his own spiritual quest was beginning. The elements of mountaineer hold a particular resonance for those in a ‘seeking’ frame of mind. In Doctor Mirani’s own words:
‘A mountain, like a man, is built of flesh and bone. It suffers through all the same physical limitations of humanity. In youth it surges skyward, recognizing neither restraint nor limitation, but the impetus of time and age eventually seeks to drag it down. Its base is littered with the skree and debris of many breakages, many ruptures and faults, and as it ages its clarity and uniformity become broken and confused, scarred, and bent earthward by the relentless attrition of time. What this means simply is that a mountain is tangible. It is a real thing, and it suffers the same stresses and distortions as we do as we age and transform from innocence to pessimism, and then from skepticism to death.’
Doctor Mirani made the decision that he would climb Kilimanjaro, but for many years he was frustrated by circumstance and injury. However, quite serendipitously, during a 2011 safari tour to Kenya and Tanzania, having largely forgotten about climbing Kilimanjaro, and now just seven months post-op on an artificial ankle replacement, Doctor Mirani was confronted with Kilimanjaro in the flesh, and he decided that to do justice to a long held ambition, he would at least set foot on the mountain.
However, once the journey began, it seemed to demand a conclusion. Having completed one day Doctor Mirani was persuaded by his companions to complete two days, and then three, until, against all the odds, and in a rare absence of pain, Doctor Mirani ultimately was able to achieve the summit.
It was this event that proved to Doctor Mirani that he was existing, at least for a time, in a state of grace. As a medical doctor he was in a position to quantify his physical capacity, and he knew, with all of his limitations, that for a man in his condition to attempt such a feat would be impossible. The journey became one of the most profound moments of his life, and it has been upon this that Doctor Mirani has tended to formulate much of his personal philosophy. Triumph over adversity. Challenge, and a willingness to recognize the hand of God – the Whisper of God as Doctor Mirani himself often terms it – in the day to processes of life.
Doctor Mirani believes in the profundity of the spirit, in the guiding hand of fate – karma – and in the presence of God in all and every aspect of our lives. In simple terms, belief in one’s self and belief in the presence of God allows a human being to achieve much that is beyond explanation.
His summit of Kilimanjaro was an event both rich in symbolism and in the healing aspects of faith. Much of this is detailed in Doctor Mirani’s inspiring memoir, and the annual Mirani Trust Kilimanjaro challenge is enacted in honor of Doctor Mirani’s achievements, to pass that blessing on to others, but also to materially support the Mirani Trust for the ongoing work of support disadvantaged communities worldwide.