Joseph Campbell said, "The influence of a vital person vitalizes." "The way to save the world is to bring it to life, and the way to do that is to find in you own case what brings you to life, and to do that-- to be alive yourself." How alive are you? How long has it been since you were alive? What were you doing, the last time you remember being alive? What is the most likely thing you could do now that would bring you to life? Do that. And if it does not bring you to life, it may give you an idea of something that will. For now, you are on the track, on the path, to the things that will bring you to life. Say no to everything else. Be single-minded in your seeking after life, your life, the life that you have yet to live, the life that is waiting on you, hoping you won't run out of time. Seek that life with all your heart and soul and mind and strength-- the way (and this analogy, too is from Campbell) a person whose hair is on fire seeks a pond or a swimming pool in which to douse the fire. Let your need to be alive, even now, even yet, even still, become a fire in your heart driving you to find what will bring you to life in the time left for living. No matter what your parents might say, or your children, or your spouse/partner/mate... No matter what your own objections may be. Sacrifice it all for the sake of your life that has yet to be lived! Do not die without having lived!
“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.
We do not choose our path, our path chooses us. Our place is to know what's what, what's happening, and what needs to be done about it, here/now, and do it before the moment passes, and the gate closes for an age or to before it opens again. How many chances do we get? It is never too late to wake up, know what's what, and do what can be done about it, even now, even yet, even so.
Saying "YES! to life just as it is means saying "YES!" to "NO!" and not doing what you have no business doing! To say "YES!" to this is to say "NO!" to that! There is that which ought not be, and that is where we come in. We call out the atrocities of human sacrifice, for instance, and of all of the injustices and loathsome crimes against humanity that we are capable of committing, and strive for a world of "liberty and justice for all" for as long as we are alive. In giving a cup of cool water to the thirsty, we are saying "NO!" to thirst. Etc. When Jesus said, "Let your 'Yes' be yes and let your 'No' be no," he was saying "NO!" to duplicity and "YES!" to integrity. Our place is to take life just as it is and turn it toward what it needs to be in light of all things considered. Better is better than worse, and is better than leaving things as they are, when they are far from the best we can do. Civilization separated itself from the primitive culture of the day by envisioning good, better, best, and striving for the best that is possible for all sentient beings. We carry that forward in our own way in our own life by the way we treat ourselves and one another and all others, saying, "YES!" to what ought to be, and saying, "NO!" to what ought not be. The Buddhists say "YES!" to enlightenment and awakening, and "NO!" to illusion, deception and delusion. Recognizing that seeing and knowing are better than not-seeing and not-knowing. It is the way.
The dream is not the dreamer, though the dreamer dreams the dream. The wave may be the ocean, but the Orca is not the ocean. The beach is not the ocean, and the sun is not the earth. Oneness is over-sold. Duality is fundamental. Yin/Yang (Pronounced "Yong") is how it is. The Way is not just any way. And we are here to recognize duality and to work for balance and harmony in all things, giving everything its due, and honoring light and darkness as Rumi did, saying "Darkness is the cradle of light." They are one because they are two. Yin/Yang. Male/Female. Good/Bad... One/Two all the way down. And all the way up.