Dragons Gate is situated atop a high waterfall that cuts from the legendary Longmen mountains above the Yellow River at Hunan.
Carp that have endured the difficult and treacherous journey upstream are faced with this final leap of faith at the gate.
Those who succeed are transformed into dragons.
Dragons have always held a special place in Chinese mythology. Known as Lung, they are closely associated with the power and fertility of water, and are often used to symbolise courage, perseverance and accomplishment.
Seiko (Yeh Kung-tzu) and the dragon.
Yeh Kung-tzu was a man who loved dragons. He studied dragon lore and decorated his home with paintings and statues of dragons. He would talk on and on about dragons to anyone who would listen. One day a dragon heard about Yeh Kung-tzu and thought, how lovely that this man appreciates us. It would surely make him happy to meet a true dragon. The kindly dragon flew to Yeh Kung-tzu’s house and went inside, to find Yeh Kung-tzu asleep. Then Yeh Kung-tzu woke up and saw the dragon coiled by his bed, its scales and teeth glittering in the moonlight. And Yeh Kung-tzu screamed in terror. Before the dragon could introduce himself, Yeh Kung-tzu grabbed a sword and lunged at the dragon. The dragon flew away.
Many of us (note to self) fall into the trap of becoming infatuated with the idea of spiritual accomplishment and self transformation in our zen practice. It is easy to decorate ourselves with the accoutrements of practice and hang memorised quotes out as banners displaying our knowledge.
But when faced with the reality of actually leaping to meet the face of our dragon we can only scream and drive it away.
To love the dragon is to finally recognise a love of our own true selves. That is why the dragon came to Seiko.
I think we all face a choice to make the final leap at Dragons Gate.
We must all come to a true understanding that the scales of the carp are already the scales of the dragon.
Featured image via dianham