I can only show you the door

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

The other day, for some reason, I remembered a scene from The Matrix; Morpheus telling Neo, on the roof of that tall building:

"I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it."

When I was in Japan, in November 2019, I saw many torii gates like the one in the picture above. The function of a torii is to mark the entrance to a sacred space, normally a Shinto Shrine. They are quite impressive; and they make you think.

A door is a passage, it marks a moment in space and time, where there is a "before the door", and an "after the door". Sometimes one needs courage to walk through a door. Sometimes, even just opening it can be challenging.

I find it to be a really good metaphor for the way we practice, for how we decide to conduct ourselves when we walk a spiritual path. Or, if spiritual is a word that tickles you, a personal development path.

Some people walk through a few doors, stay on the other side for some time, decide what resonates best with them, and then choose one. The moment they choose, is the moment they walk through that door for the last time. They have decided to stay on the other side or, in other words, to commit to that particular practice or discipline.

Other people instead just keep walking through door after door, but they never choose one. They never commit. They collect an endless line of diplomas and certificates, but never allocate the time to really go deeply into any of those practices.

There is a saying that I like: "If you know a Buddha you know them all".

It means that when you commit to a practice, and take it to its deepest level, then you will reach your goal. It doesn't matter which practice it is, as long as it resonates with you. However, if instead you practice several different things, you won't ever have the time to take any of them to a level beyond just scratching their surface.

It's like when you study music. There are musicians who study one instrument for decades. They become one with their instrument. They breathe with it, live with it. They learn how to express the complexity of human emotions through the instrument they play, through music. Listening to them can be an elevating experience, one that doesn't really depend on the instrument they play.

The word, in fact, says it all: it's just an instrument. A tool to achieve something; to communicate emotions and feelings, through the language of music.

What happens instead if you practice a little guitar, then a little piano, then a little violin, and so on? There is no world class musician who can play the piano like Yuja Wang or Lang Lang, and the guitar like Jimi Hendrix, and the violin like Itzhak Perlman, etc. It is simply not possible.

When it comes to the system of Reiki, I think the same considerations apply. I believe we don't need to learn all the different variants, all the styles and lineages. I think a balanced approach of exploring a few of them, at the beginning, and then choosing a main one, is probably the best way to go. And then, when you have found the one that really resonates with you, then it's time to practice.

And practice means committing. It means sitting down without an agenda, allowing the practice to unfold as organically as possible. It means allowing good and bad experiences to come and go, without clinging or rejecting them. It means not allowing boredom, which is a necessary step on the path, to once again divert us to open another door in the hope of finding something new and exciting.

We need to reach a place where we become the something new and exciting. A place where we can be so deeply intimate with ourselves, that we don't need anything else. A place where there isn't a hole to fill anymore, because we have become whole, complete, and content. I believe this is healing; it's to become whole.

That is what I try to teach my students. To explore at the beginning, but then choose and commit. I, as a teacher, can help them, I can show them a door, but they are the ones who have to walk through it. There is no other way.

It might be challenging, but it's worth the effort. It is the greatest adventure of all.

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