May 26-B, 2022


Mesquite Dunes and Grapevine Mountains 11 04/04/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Death Valley National Park, California
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 04 — Symbols of Transformation

“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.



The Gateless Gate 03 — Symbols of Transformation
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,
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.



The Gateless Gate 02 — Symbols of Transformation
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.

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 Gateless Gate 01 — Symbols of Transformation
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.

One/Two all the way down.
And all the way up.


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.

2 thoughts on “May 26-B, 2022

  1. Wonderful! The Gateless Gate or 無門關 is also an opening without a barrier. It invites us to step on through, but something stops us. The question is: WHAT AM I WAITING FOR? WHAT IS STOPPNG ME? I guess in time we learn that “we” are the locked gate.


    1. It is all “right here/now.” Waiting. To be seen/known/felt/embraced/employed/done/etc. “What are WE waiting for?” As you say. While some of us have to see/know/etc. against our will. “Darkness within darkness. The Gateway to Mystery.”

      Liked by 1 person

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