Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The gate of liberation

This is Juliet, who has made a successful lifetime practice of inscrutability.

In Nishijima & Cross's translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo, book 3, page 71, Dogen quotes Zen master Seppo as saying:

"The whole earth is the gate of liberation, but people are not willing to enter even if they are dragged."

And Dogen continues: "So remember, even though the whole earth and the whole world is a gate, it is not left and entered easily, and the individuals who get out of it and get into it are not many. When people are dragged they do not get in and do not get out, and when people are not dragged they do not get in and do not get out. The progressive blunder and the passive falter. Going further, what can we say? If we take hold of the person and force it to leave or enter the gate, the gate becomes more and more distant. If we take hold of the gate and get it to enter the person, there are chances for departure and entry."

The quote goes on in a discussion of expedient methods and is well worth reading. However, today I thought I'd just briefly discuss this idea of the gate of liberation.

There is a gate within us. That is, there is an opening within us, a place where something can leave and something can enter.

Now, generally speaking we don't experience our inner state as having closed parts, open parts, apertures or walls. There is just this thing we call a "mind"- which, as Gurdjieff points out, is really just a formatory apparatus, or, a non-intelligent piece of machinery which we inhabit, identify with, and assign a static value to which we refer to as "I."

Except under unusual circumstances, we don't experience the inner state as arising from the unity of intelligence, emotion, and physical function, and we don't see that as we are, we inhabit a form of our own that, in our very unawareness itself, has constricted us. Implicit in our failure to notice walls is a failure to look for gates. If we do, we look for gates in the mind, which is exactly where the walls are.

If we even hear about gates, and then stare at walls for long enough, walls begin to look like gates; soon enough, we convince ourselves that they are gates. Still within the mind, we do not know the difference.

Then we come to the question of liberation. The inference is that there is a way to become free of this state. To walk out of where we are into a new place. On the other side of the gate is something else. It is not a place where we remain forever, perhaps: there is leaving and entering, so it is a flexible state, one that allows for us to keep a degree of freedom in regard to it: which is in itself a prerequisite of liberation.

In order to do this we need to take hold of the gate.

How can that happen? What is the gate? How do we take hold of the gate? How does it enter a person?

I'm sure there are many points of view on this subject. I can only speak from where I am myself, which is not, in its essence, philosophical.

Here is how I find it:

Within us, if we can find it, is a finer materiality that does not arise from the mind.

It is a vibration that gently feeds our Being, leading it in the direction of a more intimate relationship with life: a more sensitive one that includes both the inner and the outer states in a different form of encapsulation. It emerges from flowers, is fed by flowers, and feeds flowers. From it blossoms open, and the blossoms are blossoms of compassion and warmth.

This finer substance lies on the doorstep of the gate of liberation. Within us, discovered, it becomes the whole earth, because we see that there is no earth--no consciousness, no dwelling place where the nascent property called essence can arise and grow-- without it.

It takes time and effort to find this within ourselves. At first, like any wild and untamed animal it is shy and elusive, but with diligence we can befriend the Friend. It is this essential quality of befriending the Friend that Chogyam Trungpa calls us to when he speaks of the Open Way.

This morning, while walking the famous dog Isabel, I thought of it this way:

The outer world is the moon, the planetary body that creates the tidal forces that attract and repel us. As we inhabit it in identification--or attachment, as the Buddhists call it-- we lose ourselves to that gravity. Gurdjieff explained this property of man's existence as the tendency for him to feed the moon--something that was once necessary for the maintenance of the planet, but no longer required.

The inner world is the earth. We need to inherit the earth in order to reside within it, and resist the gravitational attractions that continually consume our inner life. Forming a relationship to the finer materiality within offers us this possibility.

And then, there is the sun...

Well, perhaps that is another subject for another post.

May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.