December 22-A, 2022

Two Metaphors
These are two of the metaphors
guiding and undergirding my life,
and serving as sources of reflection 
and realization
in my work of establishing
and maintaining 
right relationship 
between head and heart.

The Gateless Gate is my image 
of the old Taoist phrase
that was the title of one 
of two collections of koans
used by Taoist and Zen practitioners
(Zen is what happened when 
Buddhism met Taoism in China)
(The other collection is called
"The Blue Cliff Record").

A gateless gate is an oxymoron,
a contradiction in terms,
which sages used to stop novices
from overthinking
and drop down into their heart/instinct/intuition
to make the connections necessary 
for finding the path
that cannot be designated as "the path."

The gateless gate is the moment of realization,
of Aha!
of understanding/enlightenment,
that happens as a lightening bold
with a shift in perspective.

For me, the gateless gate is a metaphor
suggesting that we are all
one slight shift in perspective from seeing
what's what
and doing what needs to be done about it
(Seeing is doing--
a shift in perspective is a transformation of life).

The unfinished circle is a wabi sabi symbol
reflecting the Taoist/Zen understanding 
of the nature of truth,
and of true human beings.

We are all a bit off course,
out of alignment,
"simple, imperfect, impermanent,
and therefore beautifully irreplaceable
perfection just as we are!

The unfinished circle is the gateless gate.
The gateless gate is the unfinished circle. 

It only takes seeing to know that it is so.


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.

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