88,000 Dharma Doors

I don’t know how long I’ve been hiking, but I can finally see the top of the temple.

As the midday’s sun refracts through the tower’s stained glass, its shimmering felt like a star had made a home in that sacred place.

A vision flashes through my dehydrated mind; I’m impossibly small, resting on my mothers immense chest. Her milk spills over my lips, into me and over me. The ecstasy of an insatiability and fulfillment washes through me.

I take this as a cue to drink more water. I should get to the temple by dusk.

As I finish the last stage of this 18 month pilgrimage, I begin to reminisce.

I couldn’t stand the slow-apocalypse of my old life anymore. I couldn’t pretend for one more year that it was okay to be a silent citizen in a culture that was eating the world. After a few years of attempted self-annihilation, a friend told me about the temple and what they did here. From the moment I heard, I knew I needed to come.

That was 18 months ago.

I arrived at the gate as the sun met the horizon.

There was a huge figure standing at the mouth of the gate. He must have been nearly 6’8, broad shouldered, and a vague familiarity shown through his eyes when he saw me.

Did I know him?

I felt the now familiar dehydration dream-wave come on, temporarily transforming the guardian at the gate into my father. I’m five and my dad is trying to teach me how to ride a bike. He’s disappointed. Am I taking too long? I fall for the fourth time and when I look up, he’s not there anymore.

He left a few years after that.

I drink the last of my water and greet the man at the gate.

“Hello, I’ve come many miles to give myself to the way of this Temple, may I enter?” The gatekeeper, polite, but firm says, “Not right now, but try again tomorrow.”

I set up camp in a little grove about 400 yards away. I fall asleep quickly.

I have a dream of a woman at a train station. It’s World War II and she’s frantically trying to find her train, but the train station is huge and there are dozens of tracks going in every direction. Something happens and she decides to run. She’s running into the snowy night, exhilarated by her own audacity.

After sunrise, I try the guardian again. Again he gives me the same response. He gives me water and food, but his answer doesn’t change. Every day, he says maybe tomorrow.

The gate is open, it is only the guard and his word that keeps me from entering. I could just walk past him, couldn’t I?

As if reading my mind, he looks at me and says: ”If you try to go in, I will stop you. If I have to, I will kill you. Look at me, and look at you. And even if you got past me, there are more doors and more guardians. Each one stronger than the last. I don’t know how many doors there are, but the guardian three doors in could kill me more easily than I could kill you. Try again tomorrow.”

That night as I’m falling asleep, visions begin to seep into my mind; the time I threw up on my elementary school crush’s dress, the time I asked Holly to be my girlfriend and she laughed at me, the night I got jumped and was held down while the redneck broke my jaw; the time my girlfriend came home from her dream job. Her boss had fired her after she refused to suck his dick. It was hollywood.

She stopped writing after that.

Her writing is the only thing I miss from past life

Months went by and the guardian and I become friends. He’d ask me about my life and I found myself wanting to share it with him. However, everyday he’d say the same thing when I’d ask to enter: Not today, but maybe tomorrow.

I’m ashamed to admit it…but It’s been years.

My back curves and walking is hard. I write this because last night, in a wave of courage those close to dying get, I asked the guardian a question: People from all over the world come for the teaching, why is it that we haven’t seen anyone else try to enter here?

The guardian, as if freed to speak plainly because I had asked the right question, or maybe because he could see that I was close to death, looked at me and said: ”Because we designed this gate just for you. No one else can enter here. I’m going to close it now.”

I write now as a dying man with one wish; reader, whoever you are, do not let the guardians at the gate stop you.

That is your dharma door.