When I go on hikes in the mountains of Mallorca I quite often come across gates that bar the path. All land in that small island always belongs to someone. Then one has to go back or look for an alternative route. Sometimes the owner is generous and allows hikers to go through his property by leaving the gate unlocked. I am always struck by how artificial these land divisions are when I see the same grass growing on both sides of the barrier.
When in meditation I have the courage to let go of my sense of “I” and “mine” it is like opening an unlocked gate. In Zen there is a collection of koans called the Mumonkan, the gateless barrier, and resolving each koan is like passing over and over an unlocked gate. But when I hang to the idea of separation how insurmountable that barrier looks!
Realizing that there was never a barrier to begin with is most liberating and one cannot help smiling at how our false perceptions keep us from moving forward. The grass grows indeed the same everywhere. The barrier is always mind-made and there are no sides or separation. When our perception changes, in a blink of an eye the barrier disappears, the heart stirs and the eyes become moist. Love is not abstract any more. “Love is a concrete thing, an actual substance you can use with confidence”, says Swami Sivananda in Bliss Divine. Love changes the vision of our eyes, the speed at which our blood runs through our veins, the make-up of our chemistry and our molecular structure. To keep a body “in love” is to keep it healthy, in accord with nature and alive. Yes, Swami Sivananda, love is life, love is warmth, love is constructive and creative. “To live is to love. To love is to live”. This is the big secret that lays beyond the gateless barrier and that Swami Sivananda cried out in the ten directions. So, let us follow his advice and use that elixir to the point of becoming addicted to it. And if we ever run out of it, check your tendency to picking and choosing because that surely will make heaven and earth fall apart.