The Gateless Gate

The Gateless Gate

01

Q: What is more useless than a gate to a butterfly?

A: An entire book of “gates”!

“The Gateless Gate” (Like “The Blue Cliff Record” before it”) is a collection of Zen (Zen is what happened when Buddhism met Taoism in China) Koans, or conundrums, like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”, that stood as “gates” to insight/enlightenment which disciples had to “open” in order to pass inspection by their master and be declared to be enlightened and worthy of all the respect such a state of being deserved.

Q: What is more useless than a gate to enlightenment?

A: An entire book of gates!

And so, the above symbol of the Gateless Gate is presented both as absurdity (You can walk right through the opening, or walk around it, or tunnel under it, or jump over it) and as an absolute impenetrable, unmovable, barrier to logic, reason, intellect, explanation, interpretation, translation, exegesis, understanding, and comprehension.

In this, the Gateless Gate is like an optical illusion which you see or don’t see and you can only keep looking until you see what isn’t there, and then it is, and then it isn’t… See?

The Gateless Gate is an eternal and everlasting symbol of the times, our times, all times, every time, and certainly for the times that are at hand, here and now, for all of us worldwide, standing as it does as a reminder of what is needed in every moment in each situation as it arises all our life long:

The right kind of emptiness. The right kind of stillness. The right kind of silence. And the willingness to wait for the mud to settle and the water to clear in order to see what we look at and know what we know–not by thinking about it, but by simply realizing what is so, and has always been so, and what is called for in response to what is so and to what is happening and what needs to be done about it in the time that is at hand, here and now, right here, right now.

The kind of knowing that knows is not intellectual. It is spiritual in the best sense of the term. Spiritual is “of the spirit.” It is “of the other world,” the inner world, the world of insight, intuition, imagination, realization, resonance, perspective, perception…

It is “body knowing.” What we know when we know it “in our bones,” or when we have a “gut feeling,” or when know it “in our heart,” as when we love something or someone.

It is the kind of knowing Sheldon Knopp was speaking of when he said, “Some things can be experienced, but not understood. And some things can be understood, but not explained.”

It is the kind of knowing Shel Silverstein was speaking of when he said, “Some kind of help is the kind of help that help is all about–and some kind of help is the kind of help we all could do without.”

We have to know some things that no one can tell us. And we do know those things.

That is what the Gateless Gate reminds us, and calls us to return to the right kind of emptiness, stillness and silence, in order to see what we are looking at and to know what we know, and what is being called for, and do what needs to be done about it in each situation as it arises, all our life long.

–0–

02

The Gateless Gate of Zen 
is one way of getting past 
"the noise of the dust of the world"
in order to access our innate (or original) nature
and find there what we need
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

Taoists refer to this process 
as "Turning The Light Around."
It comes down to the same thing:
Consciously laying aside
intellectual,
rational,
logical,
moral,
ethical,
common,
ordinary,
traditional
approaches to doing what is right
in a situation,
and opening ourselves to
the spiritual world of
inner reality--
instinct,
intuition,
resonance,
realization,
spontaneity,
impulse,
awareness,
"the inner light,"
"the inner guide,"
inclination,
inner urge,
inner drive,
etc.
in trusting ourselves
to what is called for
without knowing what we are doing.

We all have gifts,
how we access them
and rely on them
in piloting our boat
on its path through the sea
tells the tale
that is ours to tell.

–0–

03

The Gateless Gate is the gateway
to enlightenment and mystery within mystery.

Enlightenment is the realization 
of mystery at the heart of life and being,
and on every level of life and being.

Enlightenment is knowing
that understanding is beyond our grasp,
and being comfortably at one 
with the mystery and the conundrum 
of living with contradictions
that cannot be resolved
to our satisfaction.

There is a region of Wyoming
and another of Colorado
that hold a strong attraction
to the wealthy and well-heeled. 
Their willingness to pay any price
to live there
has raised prices to the point
where the people who trim the lawns
and prepare the food,
and serve the tables,
and keep the houses, etc.
cannot afford to live there.

"Poverty with a view," they call it,
on their way out of town
to lives they can afford to live
in other parts of the country.

Leaving the wealthy and well-heeled
with being able to afford to live
in beautiful surroundings
with no supporting staff
to tend their needs.

This is not, as they say,
"a third-world problem."
But.
Even the third-world has problems
like this in a different context.

We want things that interfere
with other things we want,
and "Why can't we have it ALL???"

Entering through the Gateless Gate
enables/requires us to be at peace
with the way of things 
that present themselves like this:
"This is the way things are,
and this is what you can do about it,
and this is the way things are."

One thing rules out another.
If we can make our peace with that,
we have it made.

Acquiescence and accommodation, Kid.
Acquiescence and accommodation.

–0–

04

The Gateless Gate is to be found
in every landscape,
in all situations.

It only takes remembering this is so
for it to be so,
standing before us
to turn the light around,
bringing perspective and perception
to bear on this here and now,
transporting us,
shifting us,
from the rational, physical world 
of logic and reason,
morality and ethics--
transcending the world of give and take,
conquer and humiliate--
and opening us to the spiritual world
of seeing and hearing,
perceiving and realizing,
knowing and doing,
being and becoming
aligned with the flow of life
through all situations 
and circumstances,
where we exhibit/express
our innate and original nature
in doing what needs to be done
where it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
no matter what,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

This is the universal covenant 
of life with itself and its lived environment.

And when we break the covenant,
it all falls apart
until we realign ourselves
with the flow of life,
and take up our role
in the process of seeing and doing,
apprehending and responding
to the need of the moment,
with the gifts we bring to the moment,
for the well-being of life as a whole.

The Gate supplies us with the mental shift
that is needed to turn the light around
and re-orient ourselves from
seizing, forcing, striving, achieving...
to seeing, hearing, knowing, doing, being...
at one with ourselves and each other
and all sentient beings
in balance and harmony with all.

The Gate is real
and we are Gate-keepers,
honoring the Gate and keeping it open 
to the flow of life and being 
between the worlds
of physical reality and spiritual reality--
each supporting the other for the good of the whole,
from generation to generation,
world without end.

It is the way.
And it is time for us to be about it.

–0–

05

The Gateless Gate is what we step through 
in engaging our other side,
our spirit side,
our spiritual self,
our psyche-self,
in being who Carl Jung
was describing when he said,
"A hermit is a primitive person
(An original person, a natural person,
"as one thus come"--
the Buddha-Christ we are all capable of being,
and called to be
by consciously, deliberately, intentionally
"turning the light around,"
and stepping through the gateless gate)

"A hermit is a primitive person
who trusts his/her unconscious."

When we step through the Gateless Gate,
we become who we are,
who we also are,
in being intuitive,
instinctive,
imaginative, 
spontaneous, 
innocent-as-in-childlike,
just so,
open to knowing what we know,
knowing what's what,
knowing what is called for
in each situation as it arises,
and rising to the occasion
on every occasion,
by doing what needs to be done
in the right way
at the right time
and letting that be that
without "letting the left hand
know what the right hand is doing."

We live in times that call for us
to use the Gateless Gate in
turning the light around
and responding to the moment
in the strength of our eternally present
Psyche-self
in doing what is needed
because it is needed
no matter what,
time after time.

The more we do that,
the better we get at it,
and the times need us to be
really good at it
all of the time.

–0–

06

The Gateless Gate stands before us in each moment,
inviting us to step through
and flip our perspective
in order to see what we look at,
hear what the situation is calling for,
know what needs to be done
and do it with our original nature
and the virtues that arrived tucked
inside of us at birth.

This is the Sisyphean task of life
waiting for us in all the days of our life.
It is job security,
and we get plenty or practice
in sizing things up,
being right about what is happening
and what needs to be done in response,
doing it
and stepping into the next situation
that flows automatically from this one. 

The trick is mastering the Gateless Gate,
turning the light around,
and switching from a logical/rational/intellectual
approach in knowing what to do when and how, 
to an intuitive/instinctive/imaginative/metaphorical/mythological
approach to living in the moment aligned with the Tao
and living to balance Yin and Yang
through all of the days of our life.

With so much on the line,
you might expect that we would 
be better prepared to meet what faces us
and know how to use the tools 
at our disposal.

But.

Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda are not to be found,
and we are on our own
in finding our way to enlisting 
in the service of the Force
and meeting the day
as the day needs to be met
every day.

The way opens before us
as we start walking.

Watch for what catches your eye,
and look closer.
Think twice about dismissing,
discounting,
disregarding,
ignoring
what greets you along the way.

Help is always there
for those who know 
how to avail themselves of it.

Savvy?

–0–

07

We make it all up as we go. 
All of it.
It means just what we say it means.
Reality isn't what it's cracked up to be.
Illusion is more to the point.
We say what is so and not so.
And we change our mind all the time.
Or never.
However it seems to fit.

We say money matters most of all.
And everything revolves around money.
So, where does boredom come from?
We live in the pursuit of money
and if we slow down for a second,
or, godforbid, stop,
we are bored,
just like that.

We are bored because we are 
making it all up
and nothing matters more than money.

And what is money good for?
Paying the bills.
And what are the bills worth paying?
We have no idea.
We are just making it up here,
and we do not know what really matters.

Everything is BOORRRIINNNGGG!!!
After a while.
Billionaires are the most bored,
and boring,
people in the world.

They buy governments just to toy around with.
They are just manipulating peoples' lives.
For the hell of it.
Because they can.
They don't care.
They are bored.

Because they don't care.

What's worth caring about?
They don't know.
We don't know.

All we can think of to buy with money
are distractions.
Diversions.
To take our mind off being bored.

We don't know what would make 
life worth living.
What we would love 
to spend all of our time doing.

What would we love
to spend all of our time doing?
What would we live to do?
Why don't we know?
Why aren't we doing it?
We would die to know.
We die not knowing.
Why?

Because we cannot make up 
something worth dying for.
Something worth living for.
We can only imagine the boring stuff.
The real stuff is painful.
Like dying.
We don't have anything to do with that.

Silence.
How much silence can you take?

Being still.
How still can you be for how long?

Empty.
We live our life 
trying not to be empty.

Nothing is more real 
than silence, stillness and emptiness.
We can't stand any of that.

Yet, they are the doorway,
or better, the Gateless Gate.
To enlightenment.
Realization.
Recognition.
Awareness.
Knowing what's what,
and what is called for,
and what needs us to do it,
in each situation as it arises.

And we don't make any of that up.
It is just there.
Waiting.
Calling our name.
Asking us to die to ourselves
that we might live to ourselves.
And be who we are.
Serving our original nature
and the virtues that are ours
to share with the world.

What are we going to do?

–0–

08

Ogi Overman said, 
"None of the alcoholics I've ever known--
and he knows a lot--
ever wanted anything more than
smooth and easy."

And being drunk or high,
or drunk and high,
were the only things that came close.

Growing up is taking it as it comes.
One day at a time.
And doing what needs to be done with it.

This is the work of maturation,
how well we handle
getting up and doing what needs to be done
again
in every situation that arises,
for as long as there are situations.

Getting that down,
so that there isn't even a pause
or a hesitation
between seeing/hearing/knowing
what needs to be done
and doing it
is the Way seekers seek.

The Way is smoothly, easily,
going about the tasks
that need to be done,
day in and day out--
because they need to be done,
and not because of what we will get
when we do it.

We get to do it again
is what we get,
in the next situation that comes along,
and one situation always follows another!

Waking up is waking up to that.
Being enlightened is realizing that.
Becoming a sage is doing that.

It isn't what we know and can explain
that sets us apart on the path,
but knowing what needs to be done and doing it.
That is what we are about here,
seeking to know what needs to be done
and doing it.

But everyone thinks it is about
seeing the link--
making the connections--
that causes everything to fall into place,
and life becomes smooth and easy
like that (snaps fingers).

It's only about the smoothness
with which we easily get up
and do what needs to be done.

Making the mental shift
regarding the meaning of 
"smooth and easy,"
turns the light around
and steps through the Gateless Gate
into Beulah Land
in the midst of life here and now.

And that is enlightenment.
Smooth and easy.

–0–

09

Living out of our original nature,
serving and sharing the virtues
that come with us from the womb,
is Buddha-hood,
is Christ-centered,
is being who we are.

Babies come out of the delivery room
being who they are,
and spend the rest of their lives
trying to not be who they are
in order to get what they want.

Ask any guru worthy of the title
and they will tell you 
that leaving what we want at the door
is the price we pay
to be who we are.

The way back to Eden 
is guarded by an angel with a flaming sword.
To get back in,
we have to die.

Dying in this sense is metaphorical,
just like dying with Christ on the cross
is metaphorical,
and the death/resurrection motif
around Jesus
is also metaphorical.

We "die" to having our way
in order to be "resurrected"
in being who we are.

All good religion is grounded
on metaphor.
All bad religion is grounded
on facts.

And so, we have to be saved
from those who would save us
in order to be restored to ourselves,
living out of our original nature
and serving/sharing the virtues
that come with us from the womb.

The path to doing that
is the path to life,
is the Way of Life,
is all there is.

Turn the light around!
Enter through the Gateless Gate!
Transform your perspective!
Transcend the way you think is the way,
and take up the way that is the Way.

By being who you are
at the expense of what you want.

–0–

10

Two realizations form the ground 
of the Gateless Gate 
and Turning The Light Around:

1) We are fine right now,
just as we are.

2) We will be fine no matter what,
just as we are.

"Just as we are" consists entirely
of our original nature
and the virtues that came with us
from the womb.

Our original nature, replete
with its virtues
are all we need
to find what we need
to be who we are
in whatever landscape--
in whatever conditions and circumstances--
we find ourselves in
in every here and now that comes along.

We do not need more than we have
in our original nature
and its virtues.

This is a foundational realization.
It is all of the enlightenment we need.

We are fine just as we are.
But.
There is a catch.
We have to be just as we are
for it to take effect.

For us to be fine just as we are,
we have to be just as we are.
At one with,
in sync with,
aligned with,
in accord with,
our original nature and its virtues.

If we are ever going to be anything,
let it be that.

Aligned with our original nature
and its virtues,
we are in full accord with the Tao,
the Source of the source
of heaven and earth
and all there is and ever will be--
which is to say,
"The way things are
and the way things need to be."

The work of being aligned with
our original nature and its virtues
is the work of managing our contradictions,
in the service of balance and harmony,
conducted in the emptiness,
stillness
and silence,
waiting for the clarity that comes
when the mud settles 
and the water clears,
and the Way opens before us
inviting us to step into
the adventure of being alive.

Just as we are.

–0–

11

Qi is understood by the old Taoists 
to be the vital life force enabling,
sustaining, maintaining
all sentient beings,
all living things.

When we use up our Qi 
it is all over,
good-bye.

Our place is to use our Qi 
in the service of the right things.

This is where the Tao 
comes into play.

To be in accord with the Tao,
we do the right things
in the right place
at the right time
in the right way.

Tomato plants and cats--
and all sentient beings
other than human beings--
are in accord with the Tao
and use their allotment of Qi
wisely.

Humans interfere with Tao and Qi
by having ideas of how things ought to be
that are not how things ought to be.

How things ought to be
is all things doing the right things
in the right place
at the right time
in the right way.

Forget how we want things to be.
How do things need to be?
That is the question we must
know how to answer
if we are to make the best use of our Qi
and live in accord with the Tao
of life and being.

How do we know?
We know through the quality 
of our relationship
with the right kind of emptiness,
stillness and silence,
while maintaining the balance and harmony
among the contradictions/dichotomies/polarities
at work in our life,
in the service of our original nature
and its virtues.

The Way (Tao ) is a natural extension/expression
of our original nature and its virtues
being exhibited in the right place,
at the right time,
in the right way.

Spontaneously,
naturally,
sincerely--
without agenda, opinion or motive
beyond seeing what needs to be done
and doing it
for nothing more than the intrinsic joy
of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

And we do it by not striving/trying/endeavoring
to do it. 

Which is wu-wei, meaning achieving 
without trying to achieve--
as a by-product of Qi and Tao 
at work in our life.

To live in right relationship with 
Qi, Tao and wu-wei,
we have to turn the light around,
enter through the Gateless Gate,
shift our perspective,
flip our typical way of thinking and doing,
and open ourselves to the world
of what needs to be done here and now
in each situation as it arises
through all the days of our life.

It is as simple 
as it is out of the question.

–0–

12

The British blessing,
"Mind how you go,"
is a regular reminder,
"It matters how you live!"

We need reminding.

We don't dismiss,
disregard,
disrespect,
discount
anything any faster than how we live.

If we lived like it mattered how we live,
we would enter through the Gateless Gate,
Turn The Light Around,
and take up the disciplines
essential to the establishment
and maintenance
of a lifestyle that sustains us
in the flow of the Tao--
of the Way,
of the Path that is not discernible as a path--
routinely,
absentmindedly,
automatically,
naturally,
spontaneously
in each situation as it arises.

Spiritual practices 
are called "spiritual disciplines,"
because they require us to 
mind how we go.

And need I say at this point 
in our relationship, yours and mine,
me with you, 
that "spiritual" has absolutely 
nothing whatsoever
to do with theology/doctrine/dogma/
dharma-as-rules-of-the-masters.

There are no black footprints
to follow on the path-that-cannot-be-
discerned-as-a-path!

All we have to go on are 
our original nature
and the virtues essential to it
that came packed inside us
from the womb.

And it takes the disciplines
of life-in-the-spirit-that-is-
ours-from-birth 
to connect us with the path
that is our path back to the truth
of who we are.

Your disciplines are unique to you.
You cannot use mine to your advantage.
You are stuck with having to discover,
uncover, recover your own.

And you cannot mind how you go
without doing that!
It matters how you live!
Savvy?

–0–

13

Bodhisattva's are very savvy people
who meet all of the requirements
for enlightenment and the trip to the farther shore,
but delay their advent to Nirvana 
in order to remain earthbound
for the sake of those who would be lost
without them. 

Which in to say,
they understand the meaning of the Gateless Gate
and Turning The Light Around,
and understand Nirvana, Beulah Land, Heaven,
The Elysian Fields, Paradise, etc.
to be right here, right now,
for everyone with eyes to see,
ears to hear
and a heart to understand.

This is Realized Eschatology 
brought about by flipping the script
and seeing the optical illusion for what it is,
walking two paths at the same time
and living with a foot in each world--
so that all of us become Bodhisattva's 
like that (snaps fingers)
with the realization of what's what
and how things are,
and what that means for us here and now.

It means knowing what needs to be done
and doing it
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long--
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
moment by moment,
day by day.

That is all there is to it.
Bodhisattva-hood rides on this
realization and embodiment along.

Welcome to the club,
all of those with eyes to see,
ears to hear
and a heart that understands!

–0–

14

The Gateless Gate is, 
to my way of reckoning, 
an implied “Eye of the Needle,” 
which  is the transition point 
between the world as it is 
and the world as it needs to be, 
waiting for us to step through 
and be amazed, 
constantly, 
as the everlasting steady state of being.

–0–

15

Nothing can happen to us
that we can't make better or worse
by the way we respond to it.

The power of perspective is the super power
of super powers,
transforming the world
and what it means to us
simply by the way we choose to look at it.

Something happens
and we say/do something in response.
The space between the happening
and the saying/doing
is the fulcrum,
the pivot point,
between present and future.

It is "the still point
of the turning world"
(T.S. Eliot).

And we stand there,
levering the present 
into some future
using the power of perspective
to decipher, interpret, exegete, 
elucidate, explain, translate
and mobilize a rejoinder
in the space of no time at all.

This is the force of hermeneutics 
at work in the world.
And, it is the magic of the Gateless Gate
and of Turning The Light Around.

It is the imaginative shift
that puts us in accord with the Tao
and aligns us with the possibilities
inherent in this moment right now
to see what's what
and what needs to be done about it
in adjusting karma 
for the good of the whole.

What we say about what's what
makes all the difference.
Saying shapes doing
and leads the way in creating
the life we live from this point on.
What we say depends on how we see.

How we see depends upon how we look,
and what we look for--
and how unbiased and nonpartisan we are
in appraising the occurrences
concurrent with each situation as it arises.

How free are we to see what we look at?

What do we bring to the moment
that interferes with our ability
to be present with what is present with us there?

How clouded is our mind?
How disturbed are the waters of our mind?
How often do we apprehend "the world"
and what is happening there
with a mind that is rested and calm,
still and quiet,
clear and receptive
like a clean mirror that "sees" everything
that comes before it?

How clearly do we see what we look at?

How do the noise,
clutter,
complexity,
confusion,
drama and turmoil
of our Umwelten
interfere with our ability
to see accurately what is happening
and what needs to be done about it?

How do we "cleanse the doorways of perception"
(Aldous Huxley)
in order to transcend the moment
and see it for what it is?
And do there what is called for?

–0–

16

The Gateless Gate is everywhere,
waiting for those with eyes to see,
ears to hear
and a heart that understands
to flip the script,
turn the light around,
know what they know,
return to their original nature,
express the virtues 
that are theirs from the start
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
as a boon and a blessing upon 
the time and place of their living
in each situation as it arises
all their life long.

That is all there is to it.

And it has always been there,
waiting.

And it always will be.

–0–

17

The Gateless Gate is an implied Eye of the Neetle,
letting people in,
and keeping people out,
of Beulah Land,
the Promised Land,
Heaven,
Nirvana,
the Elysian Fields,
the Farther Shore,
the Happy Hunting Grounds
and all the other idyllic destinations of lore. 

And, it is everywhere we are,
right here,
right now,
in every moment.

"The kingdom of heaven is spread out
over the earth," said Jesus, 
"and no one sees it."
Because we are looking for the wrong thing.

That is what the Gateless Gate
stands for,
exhibits,
expresses!
In order to see what is before us
we have to change our mind about
what we are looking for.

We have to stop thinking
and start perceiving, 
sensing,
feeling,
intuiting,
trusting our instincts
and our unconscious
in leading us to know what we know
and follow what we know to be so
through the Gateless Gate
into the wonder of being here now,
with nothing to do but to enjoy the radiance
and reflect it in all that we do.

It sounds crazy
until you stop thinking about it,
and laugh.

–0–

18

The message of the Gateless Gate
is "Turn The Light Around!"

It is all that anyone who knows
what they are talking about ever says.

It is all that can be said.
All that needs to be said.
To say more is to distract people
from the business of turning the light around.

Instructions,
directions,
commands,
explanations,
exhortations,
threats,
promises,
doctrines,
dogma,
theology...

All the talk, talk, talk,
comes down to 
"Turn the light around!"

What that means is,
"Change your mind about what is important!
And keep changing it until you get it right!"

That's all Jesus had to say.
And the Buddha.

Sin is being wrong about what is important.
And delusion.

Enlightenment and salvation
are being right about what is important.

Knowing what matters in each situation as it arises--
seeing what needs to be done and doing it--
is all it comes down to ever.

We are one slight perspective shift away
from seeing/hearing/knowing/doing/being.

Having the transforming, life-altering, insight
is stepping through the Gateless Gate.
Turning the light around.
And living in light of what is truly important
throughout the time left for living.

If you think it is about something else,
you are wrong.

Turn the light around!

–0–

19

The Gateless Gate 02
Sunflowers have become The Gateless Gate
as we have become engaged in the transformation
from flower to symbol of hope
and relentless determination 
in the service of the Light.

"Turning the Light Around" is another term 
for "The Gateless Gate"
in the Taoist tradition.

It is the process whereby one thing becomes another
by the way our perspective shifts
in the work of transcendence and transformation.

We experience something similar 
in the presence of optical illusions,
where one thing becomes another
before our eyes.

The old Buddhist designation of reality as "Illusion,"
is a perfect example of one thing,
not only becoming,
but also being, quite another.

This is caught up in another reference to enlightenment
with the phrase,
"The way to the Way is also the Way,"
meaning that everything is a doorway,
a threshold,
a Gateless Gate,
instantly transporting us from here and now
to the wonders of the Farther Shore,
Sweet Beulah Land,
Nirvana,
the Elysian Fields,
the Promised Land
and all the other designations 
available on the other side of
"the doors of perception."

All it takes is seeing in order to see.

We will never see a sunflower
the same way we have seen sunflowers
now that we have finally, at last,
seen a sunflower for what else it also is!

The Gateless Gate!

–0–

20

My friend Bill Hamilton
came upon his friend Alan Stacell
throwing stretched canvases 
of his artwork into the bed of his pickup.

Bill asked him what he was doing.
Alan said he was taking the canvases
to the dump
in order to make room in his art shed
to store more.

Bill confessed to not understanding
throwing art way to make a place for more art.

Alan said, "I paint like a dog wags its tail!"

When we make making money from what we do
the point and purpose of what we do,
we lose sight of the importance of doing what we do
for the sake of doing it the way it needs to be done
for experience and joy of doing it--
and the satisfaction of having done it--
alone.

When we do what we do for the sole purpose of doing it,
and doing it well,
getting it right,
doing it the way it needs to be done,
here and now,
we are transformed by it,
become better at it,
and transcend the popular understanding
of motivation,
purpose,
and reasons why we do anything--
pass through The Gateless Gate,
and live to be who we are,
doing what we do,
"like a dog wags its tail."

–0–

21

The old Taoists (And Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell,
and others) would say,
"Get out of your thinking brain
and into your instinctive/intuitive brain!
You are never going to think your way 
into living in accord with the Tao!"

They wouldn't mean that we can live 
separated from our thinking brain.
They would mean we have to live in sync
with both brains to have a chance
in this world.

Getting out of our thinking brain
is a stark reminder of the work that is ours to do
in seeking to harmonize yin and yang
by getting our two brains--the rational, logical, analytical,
thinking brain,
and the metaphorical, symbolic, mythological, sensing, feeling,
instinctive/intuitive brain--
to come together in collaboration
with all of the tasks of life,
particularly in finding and living
the life that is ours to live,
incorporating the virtues/gifts/daemon/abilities/genius/etc.
that came with us from the womb
within the context and circumstances of our life
in the world, as tightly structured and resistant
to non-sense as this world is.

In order to do it,
we are going to have to take up
the practice of emptiness (the right kind),
stillness
and silence--
sitting quietly on a regular basis,
waiting for the mud to settle and the water to clear,
to see and hear
what might arise unbidden "out of nowhere"
to inspire our action in the field of action
and opening paths we never would have Thought
to take.

We have put it off long enough!
Our other brain wants very much
to commune with us now! 

22

It comes down to perspective. 
It is all about perspective.
It is perspective all the way down.

How we look at what we see
determines everything that follows.

We cannot change what we are doing
until we change how we see--
how we look at, how we think about--
what we see when we look.

This is what The Gateless Gate is doing in our life.
It is saying,
"You aren't going to find what you are looking for
until you change how you are looking!"

Or, as someone said not long ago,
"Get out of your thinking brain!
And get into your perceiving/intuiting/sensing/instinctive brain!"

Until we change our perspective,
the world is going to look like it always does.
And we are going to act like we always have.

Nothing is going to change 
until how we see what we look at changes.

–0–

23

What we all are seeking
is how to deal successfully
with what comes our way--
with what our life has brought us,
is bringing us--
with our life as it is 
here and now.

We are all looking for 
how to live with what we have 
to live with,
day in and day out,
all our life long.

Denial and entertainment
can only take us so far.
Everything dries up and blows away
after a while.

What can spark us eternally?
What can keep the fire going
day after day,
forever?

Boredom is our bane.
We have to do it again.
Sisyphus has nothing on us!
We have to get up
and start pushing some boulder
again today every day.

Every. Damn. Day.

The things we hate are the things we hate
and they are always there.
Laughing at us.

All of our diversions and distractions
become part of the things we hate,
and we hate the things 
we used to use to escape from
the things we hate.

Sex, drugs and alcohol don't 
do it for us anymore!
Then what???

WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE???

All the little lambs wake up
sooner or later
as night begins to fall,
baahhhing for mama.

Well.

It is never too late
to find what we are looking for.

The Gateless Gate is everywhere,
waiting for us to walk through
by shifting our perspective,
changing our mind,
and seeing,
finally,
what's what
and what needs to be done about it,
with it,
with the virtues/gifts/genius/daemon
that are ours to serve at last,
and share,
in the time left for living.

–0–

24

The Wasteland is the polar opposite of Beulah Land.
We live in one or the other,
or at the still point between the two.

"The still point of the turning world"
(TS Eliot)
is the vantage point,
the viewpoint,
the fulcrum,
the place of seeing--
of seeing our seeing,
and laughing at the absurdity
of ever thinking we see.

"Is it this way or that way?"
Or neither?
Or both?
Or more?

The answer is "It all depends,"
and "Wait and see,"
because "it" is transforming,
shifting, changing, metamorphosisizing
as we watch.

If we both, we all, 
look at the same thing
and see what we look at,
we will see something different--
because of who is doing the looking/seeing.

What we "see"
is an abstraction,
a projection,
an elaboration,
an extension,
of "what is there."

We add to/subtract from
what we look at,
and it "means" something different
to everyone who looks, seeing, thinking they see.

The important thing--
the only thing that matters--
is what we do about it,
because of it,
in response to it.

How we live around it,
because of it.

What becomes of us and our life
in relationship with it.

What we see is meaningless,
no matter what we say about it,
until/unless it impacts our life
in some way,
for better or for worse.

What do we do about it?

Seeing what's what is doing what 
needs to be done about it.

What is called for?
What is it asking for?
What does it require of us?
Demand of us?

How do we respond?

We look and see the Wasteland.
We look and see Beulah Land.
We look and see how our seeing
impacts/transforms/determines/defines
our living, our being,
and take matters into our own hands
at the still point of the turning world
in living toward our understanding of,
our vision of,
what is necessary here and now.

Our perception of what we look at,
of what we see,
transforms us and the world around us,
and shifts as our seeing shifts
in looking at an optical illusion.

External reality is an optical illusion.
So is internal reality.
It is all "in process,"
in motion,
becoming something else as we watch.

We have the power of perception,
which is the power of seeing our seeing
and deciding what to do about it.

What we do because of what we see
identifies us, defines us, brings us forth,
and we become what is important to us
by clarifying what is important
by the way we respond to life events--
by the way we respond to how we see,
interpret, understand, explain, exegete
life events. 

How we live in the world is a reflection of
the way we view the world.
And we determine that by the way
we see our seeing
and choose what to do about it.

And how easily we laugh at the very idea
of knowing what we are doing!

–0–

25

What we all are seeking
is how to deal successfully
with what comes our way--
with what our life has brought us--
with our life as it is 
here and now.

We are all looking for 
how to live with what we have 
to live with,
day in and day out,
all our life long.

Denial and entertainment
can only take us so far.
Everything dries up and blows away
after a while.

What can spark us eternally?
What can keep the fire going
day after day,
forever?

Boredom is our bane.
We have to do it again.
Sisyphus has nothing on us!
We have to get up
and start pushing some boulder
again today every day.

Every. Damn. Day.

The things we hate are the things we hate
and they are always there.
Laughing at us.

All of our diversions and distractions
become part of the things we hate,
and we hate the things 
we used to use to escape from
the things we hate.

Sex, drugs and alcohol don't 
do it for us anymore!
Then what???

Oh, SHIT!!!
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE???

All the little lambs wake up
sooner or later
as night begins to fall,
baahhhing for mama.

Well.

It is never too late
to find what we are looking for.

The Gateless Gate is everywhere,
waiting for us to walk through
by shifting our perspective,
changing our mind,
and seeing,
finally,
what's what
and what needs to be done about it,
with it,
with the virtues/gifts/genius/daemon
that are ours to serve at last,
and share,
in the time left for living.

–0–

26

Alex Carrel said that 
we are the sculptor and we are the stone.

That being the case,
what do we need preachers for?
Or gurus?
Or mentors?
When do we call in Obi-wan Kenobi?
Or tell Yoda a thing or two?

When does anyone in that group
ever quit asking questions?
Or examining themselves?

If you said, "Never!",
you're making my point for me
and I can go sit by the fire,
and look out the window.

(We see everything,
looking out the window)

Point is, we are our own critic.
Our own guide.
The pilot of our own boat
on its path through the sea.

Who guides the birds
on their path through the sky?
The birds find their own way
to where they are going!
If a bird can do it,
we can, too!

If we keep the two commandments
of the Way:
Ask all the questions that beg to be asked!
Say all the things that cry out to be said!

That is all there is to it!

No one ever lived in accord with the Tao
without doing those two things
every step along the Way.

That is all the advice and guidance
anyone needs for the Journey,
and everybody discovers it
for themselves right out of the gate
(That's the Gateless Gate I'm speaking of--
and they discover that, too).

–0–

27

We have to devote ourselves
to a practice that brings us forth
if we want to see.

I no sooner say that
than you begin to think,
"What would that be?"
Stop it.
You will never think of it.

If we want to see,
we have to move beyond 
the boundaries of thinking.

Look around.
Everything you see
is the result of thinking.
THIS is what thinking can do.
THIS is all thinking can do.
The best thinking realizes
thinking isn't the way,
and stops thinking.

When we stop thinking,
we open ourselves
to that which is beyond thinking.

The world beyond thinking is the world
we call "The Unconscious,"
because we are not conscious of it.

It is the world the ancient peoples
called "The Invisible World,"
because they could not see it
using their eyes.
But, they could see it using 
the eyes of their heart.

The Invisible World is the foundation,
the ground,
the source
of the Visible World.

We are to live in this world
of visible, concrete, normal,
apparent reality,
as extensions,
expressions,
evidence
of that world of invisible,
intangible, 
immaterial,
unapparent reality.

The good ideas come from nowhere.
The bad ideas come from
the rejection of the good ideas.
From having a better idea.

Our story is the story 
of the Garden of Eden.
The Story of the Better Idea.

It has never worked out so well,
but that doesn't stop us,
or even slow us down.
We know what it takes.
We know where True Value is found.
It is always More Of What Has Never Been Enough!

And no one can talk us out of it!
So, here we are.
Having to devote ourselves 
to a practice that will bring us forth
in order that we might see.
And we can't think it up.

We have to empty ourselves 
of all fear/desire (even the desire to be empty)/
anger/hatred/jealously/duty-dharma/etc.,
and wait in the stillness 
and the silence
to see what arises/emerges/appears
out of nowhere
to call us, inspire us, compel us
to take up the practice that brings us forth.

"Darkness within darkness--
the gateway to mystery"
(Lao Tzu).

That's the Gateless Gate he's talking about.

–0–

28

The key to balance and harmony
is living in accord
with our original nature,
serving and sharing the virtues/gifts/genius/daemon
that are ours from birth
in doing what needs to be done,
when, where, and how it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long.

This is also called "doing what we love,"
and "following our bliss,"
even when we aren't in the mood
and there is nothing in it for us
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it.

This "flips the switch,"
"turns the light around,"
transforms our perspective
and is equivalent to
passing through the Gateless Gate
of the Tao/Zen tradition
(Zen is what happened
when Buddhism met Taoism,
and is far more Taoist than Buddhist)--
by changing our motivation/guidance/direction
from knowing and finding and serving
what we want,
to being and doing who we are.

And that changes everything.

This is religion without theology,
and truth without doctrine--
and we have to go no further
in validating its validity
than the right kind of emptiness
(The right kind being empty of everything,
all fear/desire/anxiety/duty,
like the space between breaths
when all you are aware of is breathing),
stillness and silence.

It is the foundation of enlightenment
(Which is merely knowing what's what
and what needs to be done about it,
in response to it,
moment by moment)
and the boat to the Father Shore,
and the key to being here, now.

And I'm glad to be able to point the way
to the Way,
which is also the Way.
It only takes seeing
to see that it is so.
See?

–0–

29

We get to our original nature
by being clear about what is "me"
and what is "not me,"
what is our "primary mask,"
and what is our "antithetical mask,"
what is authentic about us
and what is affectation.

What is "just us,"
and what is "the me we wish we were"?

Our authentic self
is awash in our original nature,
and reeks of the virtues
that are ours from birth,
exhibiting "the face that was ours
before our grandparents were born."

Our authentic self
waits for us to relax ourselves
into all that "we always have been,
and what we will be."

Why the resistance? 
Why even any hesitation?

Relaxing is being natural.
And in itself alone,
adds years of congeniality 
and cordiality to our life.

Why wouldn't we go for that
the rest of the way?

It is the truest thing
there is about us.
Why would we run from that?

The Gateless Gate reminds us
that we are only a slight perspective shift
away!

–0–

30

Seeing happens in its own time,
in its own way,
if we stay out of the way
and allow things to unfold 
according to their own accord--
just waiting,
just watching,
for the mud to settle
and the water to clear.

Too much noise and complexity
in our life
keeps that from happening
until we learn the secret
of dropping into 
emptiness,
stillness
and silence
amid the clashing rocks
and heaving waves,
becoming the still point
of the turning world
by remembering the Gateless Gate
is nothing more 
than a slight shift in perspective.

And just like that,
we ""turn the light around,
"a door opens where there was no door,"
and "a new day has begun."

–0–

31

It takes a "We" to make an "I."

We think "It takes two "I's" 
to make a "We."
As though any two "I's" will do.

It it isn't the right two "I's,"
it will never make a "We."
And it will never make an "I" either,
no matter how many babies it produces.

In order for two "I's" to be right
for a "We,"
each "I" has to be mutually accommodating.
And if one "I" can't manage that,
the other "I" has to accommodate
its failure to be accommodated,
and still make being with it
a really good place to be.

In order for one "I" to be able 
to do the work of two "I's,"
it has to be that wheel turning
out of its own center
that Nietzsche talked about
being the goal/essence of maturity.

To do that, that "I" must be
incredibly gifted from the start
in seeing what is needed on all levels
and doing what is called for
in each situation as it arises.
That's an Old Soul from birth for you,
and there aren't many of them around.

There aren't many of the right kind of "We's"
around, either.
Mostly, we are a collection of "Wannabe-I's"
drifting lost and alone through the Wasteland,
packing together in a collective "Wannabe-We,"
seeking what they need to be a Self,
snarly and pissy, woebegone and depressed,
because they don't have the right combination
of possibilities for it to happen.

Nails the culture pretty well, I must say.

What to do about it is what matters most.

How does an "I" successfully self-emerge?
Without an adequate "We" to give it birth?
By learning and applying the trick of 
"Adequate We-ness."

"Adequate We-ness" is a communal affair
where "Insufficient-I's" come together with
"Sufficient-I's" to form a community devoted
to providing an environment conducive to the
self-development of its members.

We grow each other up by being a safe place
for each other to be
while we consciously experience/explore the agony
of self-emergence.

AA can be this kind of place.
Some religious organizations can do it.
Maybe a bridge club or a poker group can manage it.
We are looking for the right kind of
family substitute--
the right kind of artificial "We"--
to create, sustain, maintain and direct
the development
of the right kind of "I."

And, whether natural or artificial,
the right kind of "We"
that is capable of producing 
the right kind of "I"
has to make the Gateless Gate
the essential feature of what it has to offer.

–0–

32

The life of your dreams
is a simple matter of adjusting your dreams.

Or, to put it another way,
of changing your mind
about what's important.

Nothing is more important
than being right about what's important--
and living in its service.

We all think we know what's important.
How many of us are right about it?

Growing up is about 
changing our mind about
what's important--
to the point of being right about it.

Maturity is being right
about what's important,
and doing what that implies,
requires.

It's a function of time
spent in the right way.

Enlightenment is the outcome
of time spent in the right way,
so that we see (at last)
what is important and do it.

This is also known as salvation,
changing our mind about what matters most,
and being right about it,
and paying fealty to it
all our life long.

This kind of change of mind
is the function of the Gateless Gate 
in our life.

Everybody lives to have what they want.
How do they know what to want?
How many of us want what we ought to want?
How many of us care about
what we ought to want?

There are things we ought to do
that have nothing to do
with what the culture/society/duty
say we ought to do.
We ought to do what our life
wants us to do
whether we want to or not.

This is the battle of the oughts.
We ought to do what is ours to do--
what needs us to do it--
whether or not anyone agrees
that it ought to be done.

We live to know what is important,
to know what needs to be done,
to know what ought to be done,
and to do it,
even if society calls us a heretic 
and burns us at the stake.

–0–

33

Everything depends on our making the connection--
that Carl Jung called the Mysterium Coniunctionis--
between "this" and "that."

For example, there is "the task,"
and there is our enthusiasm for "the task."
What is the connection?
Upon what does our enthusiasm for the task,
any task,
depend?

Everything depends upon that!
Everything depends upon our enthusiasm for the task,
no matter what task it might be.

If it needs to be done,
that should be all that is necessary
to evoke our enthusiasm for doing it.

But we know it doesn't work that way?
Why not???
Upon what does our enthusiasm for the task depend?
We think we have to care about the task,
as though the task elicits our response to the task.
If it is a task we deem to be worthy of us,
if we are drawn to it as a moth to the flame,
well fine, of course, we will do it,
gladly, exactly as it needs to be done.
We do not do lovingly any task
that does not inspire love within us for it.
We wait for a task we can feel like doing
with all our heart.

But.
Why hold anything back?
Why not love everything just as it is?
"Do not judge," said Jesus.
"Live as though you love your neighbor
as yourself, whether you do or not,"
said Jesus.
"Live so lovingly with your neighbor
that your neighbor can't tell
if your love her/him or not!
Live so lovingly with your neighbor
that YOU can't tell whether you love
him/her or not!!!" said Jesus.

Get it?

The mystery in the Mysterium Coniunctionis,
is how we disappear in acting
as though there is no contradiction
involved in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done.

We disappear in doing the deed
that needs us to do it.
This is what we were born for.
This is who we are.
What do we mean by holding anything back?
Whose side are we on?

Get it?

We step through the Gateless Gate,
and disappear.

–0–

34

The only difference between a bad day
and a good day
is a shift in perspective.

Flipping perspectives is the role
of the Gateless Gate.

The essential act of turning the light around
is the back-and-forth,
"edge-of-the-coin"
optical illusion transition
from rational/logical/left-brain seeing
to metaphorical/symbolic/instinctive/intuitive/right-brain seeing.

If you can master that vantage point,
you will be straddling the Gateless Gate,
looking right and left,
or left and right,
and seeing different worlds
"without leaving home."

That puts you "at the still point
of the turning world" (T.S. Eliot),
at the fulcrum between worlds,
able to shift one world into the other
just by changing the way you think about
what you are seeing.

Nothing is only what it appears to be.
Everything can appear to be something else
just by the way we look at it.

Practice it on your parents,
and on your children,
on everyone you meet.

Become proficient in seeing everything
"from all sides."
And don't let anyone get by with 
one-way-only-seeing--
particularly yourself!

–0–

35

The Gateless Gate is the fulcrum,
the swing point between worlds,
brought about by a slight shift in perspective,
which is the gift of enlightenment,
"turning the light around"
and enabling us to see "this world"
of rational, logical, intellectual, factual, concrete
understanding of how things are,
and "the other world"
of metaphorical, symbolic, instinctive, intuitive, wholistic,
non-linear, seeing-knowing 
ways of understanding how things are--
always including a "felt sense" of what to do about it,
that logic and reason can't grasp at all,
or, grasping, dismiss it instantly as "woo-hoo-woo-hoo,"
and have nothing further to do with it.

I've included my symbol of the Gateless Gate in 62 images,
with two more to go.
The number 64 is wholeness itself,
is complete, is good, and is a doorway,
or a gateway, into infinity,
reflecting as it does the implied presence
of the Gateless Gate in every landscape,
in every photography,
in every moment
of every situation as it arises
through-out time.

64 is 8 squared.
8 is the symbol of infinity. 
Infinity squared is beyond thinking/experiencing,
and is way more than is necessary
(One would think)
for getting the transitional/perspective shift
that takes us from this world into that world
and opens us to the wonder of the mystery
of Just Seeing, Just Knowing
and, therefore, Just Doing what needs to be done
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
and that's that.

That. Is. All. There. Is.

And 64 hints of Gatelessness is all we need to get it,
if we are ever going to get it,
because it is already here, now
along with the Father Shore,
and there is nothing to do to see it,
beyond the shift in perspective that allows it.

Like the optical illusion it is.

–0–

36

The only thing standing between us
and everlasting joy and satisfaction
is a slight shift in perspective.

Perspective is a superpower.
The Elder Wand.
It transforms everything.

Nothing is so bad that
it can't be made better
by changing the way we look at it.

Our relationship with ourselves,
our life,
one another
and the world at large
can be renewed,
reshaped,
reformed
simply by changing our perspective
about all these areas.

We don't have to see things as we do.
We don't have to think about things as we do.
We do not have to threat things as we do.

We can change our mind about everything.
And change everything in so doing.
We hold the power of the gods.
How we use it tells the tale.

–0–

37

"The path that can be discerned as a path
is not a reliable path."

This is Martin Palmer's interpretation
of the Lao Tzu's "The Tao that can be explained
is not the eternal Tao."

No maps.
No words.
No linear, sequential, step-by-step way
to the Way.

Teachers and masters are useless,
except for being able to say
"Teachers and masters are useless."

And, "Don't listen to me!
Listen to YOU!"

And, "In listening to YOU,
listen past all the noise
to the core/center/source
of you.

"Empty yourself of all that
interferes with knowing yourself,
hearing yourself,
listening to yourself,
which means emptying yourself
of everything--
even the desire to be empty.

"Be the emptiness between breaths!"

With that much instruction,
we have all it takes
to be on the way to the Way,
which is, itself, the Way.

"The Way to what?"
To seeing, hearing, understanding,
knowing, doing, being.

"Understanding" means understanding
there is nothing to understand,
nothing that can be explained,
defined, spelled-out, made clear...

We are living out of our experience
of what is here/now.
Not out of our heads.
The world is run out of heads.
Everybody lives out of their heads.
Thinking, thinking, thinking.
Wanting, wanting, wanting.
Striving, striving, striving...
This situation that we all are now in
is the result of that.

That is the Wasteland.
We are looking for the Gateless Gate
that is the exit from the Wasteland
to "the Land of Gentle Breezes/
Where the Peaceful Waters Flow" 
(Anne Murray, "Snowbird").

The Gateless Gate is the transition place,
the fulcrum, the pivot point,
between not-seeing and seeing,
not-knowing and knowing,
striving-but-not-doing and wu-wei.

Between the Wasteland and Home.

At Home, we live out of a spontaneous response
to our experience of here/now,
where there is very little thinking/planning/scheming/
conniving/striving
in the service of advantage/gain/merit/payoff/wealth/
privilege/status
and only living/seeing/doing 
in balance and harmony
between "the great flow of circumstances"
and "The Way of being in accord with the Tao,"
which is seeing/knowing
our experience of here/now
and responding to it in ways
that are appropriate to the occasion,
in each situation as it arises.

Doing the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right way.
And letting that be that.
Spontaneously,
in tune with the moment.
Situation by situation.
Period.

This is the perspective
that is the Elder Wand
which transcends
and transforms the world
one situation at a time.

And is the alternative
to life as we know it.
Waiting for us to 
take up the search for the Holy Grail
from the Wasteland to Home
by the way we respond to here/now,
one after another.

The Mystery of Yin-Yang,
of Living/Being/Seeing/Doing
by not doing anything special at all.
Just ordinarily going about 
business as usual
in a very unusual way.

38

There is the Great Flow of Circumstances,
with "one damn thing after another,"
and there is the Flow of Life and Being,
in, around and through 
the circumstantial congestion
of the times.

How to move from one to the other
is a matter of turning the light around,
flipping the switch,
looking again,
and seeing what we look at,
finally, at last,
and doing what needs to be done about it.

The Gateless Gate is the swing point
between the worlds flowing through this world
of time and place,
the place of transition/transformation
where the "doors of perception are cleared"
(William Blake)
and we know what's what:
"This is the way things are,
and this is what can/needs to be/must be
done about it,
and that's the way things are."

The future of time and place
depends upon what happens then.

Once we see, what do we do?
Upon the answer to that one
teeters all things great and small.

To know and not do, 
that's big.

But, there is hope for the world
in the next moment
of each situation as it arises,
where the same scenario plays out again,
and again,
through all eternity.

What dies now
has the possibility of being resurrected
then,
and all is never lost,
merely delayed,
sometimes through all those eternal cycles
the 
Buddhists like to talk about,
and sometimes not.

It all depends on here/now,
all the way down,
and  how well we sync up with the right flow
and do what needs us to do it.

In each situation as it arises.

If you know what you know,
you know what I mean.

39

We step out of the Flow of Circumstances
into the Flow of Life and Being,
and vice versa.

"Going with the flow"
raises the question
 of which flow we are going with.

And how alive we are 
to the life we are asked to live
in doing what needs to be done
when, where and how it needs to be done,
no matter what,
throughout the time left for living.

How do we take ourselves out of 
the Flow of Circumstances
and place ourselves in
the Flow of Life and Being?

The right kind of emptiness,
stillness and silence
are the Gateless Gate of perception
shifting us, 
transitioning us,
between worlds.

How empty, still and quiet 
can we be?
For how long?

That is the sluice gate
between flows.

40

Everybody wants a better life,
only a few are willing to do 
what it takes to have one.
And, that's the story of the species.

Lethargy keeps us where we are
on every level.

Maybe we feel guilty about it
and we stay where we are.

What would it take for us
to get up and do what needs to be done?

If only Powder Milk Biscuits would do it!
It will take something other than that.
It will take stepping through the Gateless Gate
and Turning The Light Around!

That is to say, changing our mind 
about what is important,
and shifting our perspective enough
to allow for a different point of view.

It has never been any more difficult than that.

What's it going to take
to change our mind 
about what is important?

Changing the metaphors
directing how we think and live.

What are the metaphors
directing how we think and live?
We don't even know what they are!

They are so embedded in 
the way we think and live
that we have no idea of how 
we are being bound and controlled.

We know what we think is important,
but we don't know what is actually so,
or what truly needs to be so.

How do we get to the bottom of it?
How do we get to the bottom of who we are?
How do we get to the bottom 
of what is directing our life,
requiring us to think the way we think,
see the way we see,
feel the way we feel,
and do the things we do?

Who says we ought to do it the way we do it?
Who are we trying to please?

What are our dreams saying about these things?
What is our body saying?
What are our symptoms saying?

How many ways do we attempt to show ourselves daily
who we are and what we are doing,
only for us to dismiss the obvious
and continue doing what we have always done
the way we always have done it?

What excuses do we make
that allow us to go on doing
what we have always done
the way we always have done it?

Whose side are we on?

41

“The Gateless Gate” (Like “The Blue Cliff Record” before it”) is a collection of Zen (Zen is what happened when Buddhism met Taoism in China) Koans, or conundrums, like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”, that stood as “gates” to insight/enlightenment which disciples had to “open” in order to pass inspection by their master and be declared to be enlightened and worthy of all the respect such a state of being deserved.

A “gateless gate” is, itself, a conundrum that makes no sense in a logical, rational, intellectual kind of way, but which “opens the way” to realization, enlightenment and awakening in a metaphorical, symbolic, intuitive, instinctive kind of way.

The Way we are looking for is this kind of way. It is like this: A joke that has to be explained will not evoke laughter the way a joke that we “get” does. The Way that has to be explained in order to be known cannot be known.

We do not chose our path. Our path chooses us. Our place is to say “YES!” to that which calls our name–and to know it is calling our name when it does.

We do that by passing through the Gateless Gate–by experiencing the shift in perspective that transforms the world and makes all things new, and changes our life forever. And we wait for that to happen on its own, hoping that we will “get it” when it when the gate opens of its own accord and invites us to step through.

42

The Gateless Gate 02 — Symbols of Transformation
The Unfinished Circle — Symbols of Transformation
The Unfinished Circle
and The Gateless Gate
are my two favorite symbols/metaphors
at this time and place 
of my life.

They are two aspects of the same thing.
I am unfinished
and I am whole--
and all it takes is a shift in perspective
to see that it is so.

The Unfinished Circle is my unfinished/whole state,
and The Gateless Gate is the requisite shift in perspective,
that completes the incomplete circle,
and brings me wholly into the here/now of my living.

And here/now like that
I can do what needs to be done
about anything that comes along.
Rising to every occasion.
Offering what I have to give
from the storehouse of my original nature
and the spring of living water
in the form of the virtues 
that are mine from birth.

I am well-equipped to meet each moment
in every situation as it arises
all my life long.

So are you!
The Unfinished Circle,
and The Gateless Gate
declare it to be so!

As they have through all the ages
from the beginning
to right now!

43

Everything is a matter of perspective.
Perspective is all there is.
How we see things IS how things are,
or may as well be
for all the difference not being would make.

Happiness is perspective.
Sorrow is perspective.
Depression is perspective.
Hopelessness is perspective.
Cheerfulness is perspective.
Etc. forever.

Learning the trick of flipping perspective
is absorbing the lesson of the Unfinished Circle
and the Gateless Gate,
and stepping into our life 
and each situation as it arises
as those who are balanced and in harmony
with all that is 
and how things are,
ready to do business
as business needs to be done.

Nothing can stop those 
who know the trick of flipping perspective
and are immune to the impact
of whatever happens.

44

We can deal with anything
living out of our original nature
and the virtues that are ours from birth
in conjunction with the right kind of 
emptiness,
stillness 
and silence.

Emptiness,
stillness 
and silence
are the matrix
within which we develop
our relationship
with our nature and our virtues,
and out of which 
we rise up to meet the world--
in each situation as it arises.

Sizing up the situation
and doing what needs to be done there,
when, where and how it needs to be done,
moment-by-moment,
and are carried by the flow
moving through one situation after another
into the adventures of our life.

This is life within the Tao,
"Darkness within darkness,
the gateway to mystery."

And to life and being.

Enter through the gateless gate,
and walk upon the pathless path.

It is the way.

45

The Wasteland is where people are unclear
about what is important,
and do not know what needs to be done,
or where, when and how it needs to be done--
and don't care about knowing/doing these things.

In The Wasteland,
one thing is as good as another,
one time is the same as another,
and it does not matter how we live,
as long as we are happy
and doing what we want to do.

In The Wasteland,
we are happy to do what we are told to do
if it pays well
and enables us to do what we want to do
with the rest of our life.

In The Wasteland,
everything is about money,
and people will do whatever it takes
to have all the money they want,
and do whatever they want to do with it.

The polar opposite of The Wasteland
is Eden where people live to be who they are
and do what needs to be done--
what needs them to do it--
when, where and how it needs to be done,
whether they want to or not.

The Return to Eden is what the rest of our life
is to be about.

It is a simple matter of knowing what is important
and doing what needs to be done,
when, where and how it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises
throughout the time left for living.

We are never more than a slight perspective shift 
away from The Wasteland to Eden.
The trip from one to the other
is only a matter of turning the light around
and entering through the gateless gate
"to the land of gentle breezes
where the peaceful waters flow"
(Anne Murry, "Snowbird").

46


	

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

One thought on “The Gateless Gate

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