Opening Gates

When you are old and infirm you are put in a bed with gates. They are there for the safety of the resident, and for carers peace of mind. The gates will be opened when it is time to move, or be moved. Opened by those whose job it is to do that. Here is an extract from an essay written by a chap who reads here. A touching story about life in a gated bed.

I woke Norbert and told him we had to go downstairs for a test. His bones, laden with years, stretched a good length of the bed and looked heavy as lead. The notes said one-person transfer, but I had my doubts.

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Gates are often used both metaphorically and actually in Buddhism. They symbolize, among other things, that the teachings of Buddhism are offered freely. All that is required or needed is to enter. The gates of the Dharma stand open wide, always.

The second ceremony of the Ten Precepts Meeting is Opening The Gates of The Precepts. The teaching of this ceremony, a time when the Precepts are read out aloud, is that the sense of hearing is fundamental and that hearing the teaching, the Precepts, brings one to the opened gate. The next ceremony during the week is when a formal commitment to keeping the Precepts is made. At this ceremony, called Lay Ordination, a small kesa is given as well as a certificate. Each ceremony is the enactment of steps in practice, taken many times a day. Making the formal commitment at Lay Ordination is stepping through the gate. That’s the step we all take every day of the year, Buddhist or no. It is always time for us to step through those gates – representing commitment to active engagement with our lives. Now.

For those living in a gated bed, the elderly and infirm. Life, every move one takes is in slow motion. By the time one gets to Norberts age one would hope to know that, what ever the external circumstances are, the gates are indeed open. It sounds like Norbert knows that. He is free to be himself without pretence. Not much covered up. Nothing hidden.

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