Over the course of a life time, what if we see each experience as a kind of gate, a potential opening to move through? What if every memory, every conversation, every chance encounter is a gate that allows the possibility for change and growth? We can imagine that birth and death themselves are gates. Each daily message we send and receive are gates. The tight hip, the tender low back, the aching shoulder are all gates.
“Dharma gates are countless, I vow to enter them,” cites one of the four vows in Zen. Can you have the heart and courage to move through all gates in a lifetime? Seeing all occasions—whether painful or pleasant, terrifying, or sublime—as doorways opens us to endless opportunity. On the contrary, it is the doubting mind, the fearing mind that perceives the world to be full of obstacles. This mind will always check itself, hold itself back. This mind will always get stuck in right versus wrong, and us versus them. Yet can we realize the Big Mind that is itself unlimited? Because the essential nature of mind is unconfined, it knows no blocks or barriers. The awakened heart-mind approaches all circumstances as invitations. When we see all encounters, all happenings as “dharma gates,” there are no obstacles. In the preface to the famous Zen treatise, the Gateless Gate, it is said “The great Way has no gates, there are a thousand different roads; one who passes through the gate that is no gate, walks freely through the world.”
We all stand on the threshold of becoming—today alone you will pass through a myriad number of gates. It is our bidding to walk the thousand different roads, moving through each moment with nothing to fear.