Reason and Practice

Bodhidharma, the great master who delivered the Meditation School of Buddhism to China, said that there are really two gates that lead us to the path to awakening. He called them the Gate of Reason and the Gate of Practice.

The Gate of Reason is realizing through instruction and/or study, coming to understand our true nature, which is one with all things. We don’t see our own innate wakefulness all the time because our minds are obscured by delusion, like a clear blue sky that is obscured by clouds.

But we can turn our minds away from delusion. We can turn our minds toward the Dharma by meditating and by contemplating Emptiness. Then, we are entering the Gate of Reason.

To enter the Gate of Practice refers to four practices. These four practices could be said to reference a reformulation of the Four Noble Truths:

  1. suffering
  2. adapting
  3. seeking nothing
  4. practicing

Suffering represents developing an understanding of difficulty. Things will always be hard and this practice really represents knowing that suffering is a part of human existence.

Adapting represents equanimity, our ability to be unmoved and unattached, whether things are going well or badly, a sense of even-mindedness.

Seeking Nothing represents Emptiness. When we understand that things are empty, that nothing is going to bring us the permanent satisfaction that we want, then we can stop trying to gain and make enemies out of everything all the time.

Practicing represents developing a mind of Emptiness with a heart of compassion. We achieve this by cultivating the six perfections.

These are Generosity, Virtue, Patience, Diligence, Concentration, and Wisdom. The cultivation of these six is the foundation of Buddhism.

These are the teachings of the Two Gates.