Gates are potential openings in walls and fences, but until they are open they are barriers themselves. Frequently they are locked and to enter we must have the combination or key. We all have our walls and fences that surround us that we believe we need to protect ourselves. In particular these are places we are wounded, places where we feel shame or guilt, places we encounter our animal natures and even our strengths and talents! We may fear more than anything opening the gate to these places.
The month’s theme song implies that “becoming drunk on love” is the key that unlocks the gate. By being “altered” by love and compassion, we bypass the sympathetic nervous system’s flight/fight/freeze responses. We are then able to befriend our “dark” places and become more whole.
There are many ways to approach The Gateless Gate becoming drunk on love. Many have used arts such as dance, song, poetry, visual creations and drama to do so. Some religious practices such as devotions and heart centered meditations produce this kind of intoxication as well.
Here is an example of a method that I have used. When my daughter was about four years old I was pushing a wheelbarrow doing gardening chores while she was outside with me. She had a baby stroller which I realized she began using as a wheelbarrow herself! She had a look of delirious intent on her face as she went about her joyful but serious play. I was suddenly filled with overwhelming tenderness and love for this delightful being, this magical child! I knew then as I know now that nothing could ever cause me not to love her. This is drunkeness of love that changes everything! She, like all of us in our growth and interactions, developed a shadow. But I could forgive her anything, and feel compassion for any loss or hurt she ever experienced, because of the altered mind that my vision and experience of her created.
When I begin to be unkind to myself, need to confront some insensitive or unconscious behavior, become too critical of myself, or am overwhelmed with guilt and shame, I remember what I felt for my child and begin to look at myself in the same light and turn these tender feelings my way. I too am a wondrous being at my core. Just as I would comfort her when she did something of her shadow nature, I am no different and need to love that very part of myself. This turns the key that opens the Gateless Gate! I can take the leap and release my fate, reviving the magical being within me! And as Buddha said, I am awake! I become aware of gratitude for the gift of my life! This intoxication is actually the state of being awakened and welcoming all our experience!!
I use other feelings, experiences and images in the same way. I imagine the Goddess placing her arms around me or a friend comforting me or sometimes just being in a beautiful and loving space like my garden. I suggest experimenting to find what works best. I also use this method to stir up my compassion for someone else, or in blessing them or praying for them! I find doing this as a practice on a regular basis makes it available to me when I need it most.
So let us not hesitate to do this work with ourselves and others! This can give us the energy to work for justice for the Planet and all of it’s beings! All is welcome here!
I absolutely love this, Daniel. Years ago, I had a similar experience while watching our children play. It was the moment when I became an unabashed Universalist. If I who have my faults and limits could know that nothing would ever stop me from loving my children, how could anyone fathom a Divine Being or Beings who would do anything but love us? This willingness to see the Wondrous in each person, including ourselves, is what “God/Goddess” means to me now, and it surrounds us and supports us all the time. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!
Very touching words, Daniel. Thank you for sharing your insights.