Student: What is Zen?
Gate: Enter through me and find out.
Student: I would like to know before I enter.
Gate: In that case find a Zen teacher.
Student: But what can he or she do?
Gate: They can either show you where the gate is that you must enter through or make you believe you've entered.
Student: The last part doesn't sound all that encouraging. Since you are here, I would prefer to enter right now.
Gate: Step through.
Student: Try as I might I can't. This is so weird. Why can't I step through.
Gate: The mind of birth and death is preventing you.
Student: What if I just say MU, how's that?
Gate: It's still connected with the mind of birth and death.
Student: How do I abandon this mind of birth and death so I can enter?
Gate: It's not that easy to abandon. Those who have entered through me were able to abandon their mind of birth and death in the blink of an eye. Pretty impressive I'd say.
Student: But why can't I?
Gate: Maybe you think it is a matter of abandoning a little at a time. Maybe an amount that you feel comfortable with instead of abandoning the mind of birth and death all at once.
Student: Okay, maybe I should do zazen then. What do you think about that? It couldn't hurt.
Gate: Sitting is still part of the mind of birth and death. You get to watch it more closely. You get to examine your prison cell.
Student: You're making Zen difficult. Isn't it basically about being aware?
Gate: Maybe you should search for a great Zen teacher, one that can help you to believe that.
Student: They should know, right?
Gate: All who awaken must enter through me. Believe me, I know who has entered and who can't.
Student: Haven't all Zen teachers passed through you?
Gate: Only a small handful have entered. Zen is a victim of its own mythology. It's a great story. But when it comes to entering through me, they all back away. It's too difficult for them to abandon their mind of birth and death, realizing the one true substance. Those who wish for eternal life must give up the mind that craves birth and death.