When we are born we enter life through the Eastern Gate. After conception we are transforming, from cells to embryo, than from embryo to child. The biggest transformation happens just after birth, when we start breathing and become basically independent from the mother. The sun is rising. We start living and learning to live in this world. This period is continuing until we are 25.
Then we enter a next phase, going through the Southern Gate. The sun is now in mid-sky. In my life this period started after the last test of the earlier period: my masters degree at the university. I was 25 years at that moment. Then I, and we in general, start creating a family and start our livelihood (of course this is quite a bit earlier for some people), and are integrating in society as a whole (a proces for which of course the fundament already was laid in the East). We physically and psychologically leave our parents’ home behind.
Then, at 50, we enter the Western Gate. Besides of making a livelihood we now start giving without asking for a return. This is a time for voluntary work and for developing the unique talents you want (and are meant to ) to give to the world. Before entering this gate I had to pass a few tests, as there were: leaving a cult, going through a process of cancer (I was blessed to be healed completely), and being trained and initiated as an ‘Essential Peacemaking/Men and Women’ facilitator. Also I left my marriage and broke up my nuclear family (two kids already left or were leaving home). At 53 I di a new test: a wilderness quest, being just by myself in the wilderness for ten days. The sun was coming down, but a completely new future laid ahead of me. All over the world I together with a female friend delivered workshops Essential Paecemaking, and I supported the Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem and coached an ecovillage in Russia.
And now I am becoming 75 and on the edge of passing thorough the Northern Gate. The sun is setting, and the light is fading. In the darkness it is time for again going inside. In order to pass the gate I let go of all my positions in society: committee memberships, teacher, fundraiser, including all the feelings of importance and status that came with it. I shall enter the void. It feels very good, although there are also feeling of apprehension and melancholy. ‘Partir c’est mourir un peu’. Living is continuously dying, as my teacher Stan Keleman taught me ages ago. So for me melancholy is part of life. Dying however is a necessary condition for a new beginning. What will rise out of the void of the future? I am looking forward to it.
The above model is from Zenmaster Hakuin (Four ways of knowing), and related with the Shamanistic Medicine Wheel. It describes a lifelong way of initiations, the gates being the moneys of initiation. (At the Eastern Gate the parents are doing that: baptizing, name giving, etc.) Food for thought and reflection.
(I apologize for mistakes in my English. Blogs are cursory – not stuff for correction by a native speaker).