The reminder of one’s mortality has always been the fundamental force behind the human search for something beyond. Nobody would seek spirituality if they did not know that they would die. When you are young, you think you are immortal, but slowly as you get older, the body definitely reminds you that you are mortal.
This is why it is said that Shiva constantly spent time at cremation grounds. Almost every yogi spent time at cremation grounds. Cremation grounds were held as very sacred because they remind you of your mortality in a strong way. When somebody dies, even if it is somebody that you do not know, it just hits you somewhere, the mortal nature of your existence hits you somewhere in your body. Mentally and emotionally, there also may be reactions, but the most important thing is that the body imbibes life in its own way.
The body has a memory of its own, which functions in its own way. Right now, the memory that your body carries is ruling you far more than the memories of your mind. It is the body’s memory which is far more significant than the mental memory.
Yogis always chose to live in the mountains because there, the body is strongly reminded of its mortality — not a mental or intellectual reminder — but a physical reminder. The space between life and death is so flimsy. That space or that line is narrowed in the mountains. Living in the mountains constantly reminds you of the transitory nature of your existence. If you realise the mortality of who you are, if your physical body is aware that it is not permanent, that it is going to be sucked into this earth one day, and it could be today — now your spiritual search is unwavering. That is why yogis chose the mountains. They wanted to be constantly reminded of their mortality, so that their spiritual search doesn’t waver at all.
It is very important that you are constantly reminded of what the nature of your body is. The body around which your whole life revolves is just a little bit of earth. Yogis wanted a constant physical reminder of this. For this reason, they always chose to be with the earth. How to stay surrounded by earth? You could dig a hole and sit in a well, but that is not practical. So they went to the mountains and chose the natural holes that were there, where the physical body is constantly reminded that the earth is trying to suck you back. Mother Earth is trying to get her loan back as quick as possible. Your fight for survival is the struggle against that.