Three Doors of Liberation

Some Eastern disciplines teach that there are three doors or gates of liberation.  Writings on these gates indicated that the teaching about them is primarily about them as ways of concentration or focus.  This means that these three gates are objects (intangible) upon which we should focus in our meditation time. Actually, there are specific meditations that work with each of these.

The three gates are:

1. Emptiness
This is a familiar word to Buddhists and other Eastern practicioners. Actually, emptiness, in my opinion, cannot be defined per se. Rather than being a tangible force, emptiness is rather, a way of practice. Emptiness does not mean “non-existence.” Actually, if something is empty, then something has to exist in order to be empty. There are plenty of teachings, articles and books on emptiness available to the student of meditation who would like to plunge deeper into esoteric teaching. The summation of “emptiness” could be that emptiness is the path between existence and non-existence. There is no self.

2. Signlessness.
The prefix of this word is sign. What is a sign? In western thought we know that a “sign” is something that represents form. We look beyond the way that objects appear and understand that our concepts may not be in line with what is real. But then, what is real? Signlessness means that we do not place our personal or group concepts on anything. For example, prejudice against some group. Signlessness is when we do not all ourselves to be influenced by the tales and story-lines of ourselves or others.


Aimless in the Sanskrit is Apranihita. The work basically means that you do not place goals or objects in front of you as items for which you strive. You already possess basic goodness. There is nothing that you need to go in search for in order to “find” basic goodness, it is already there. You are an enlightened being already. To search for enlightenment is useless because you are already enlightened. This very moment is the only purpose. The past and future do not exist, and as soon as they are thoughts or perceptions, they no longer exist except in memory or dream. We no longer need to strive for anything.

The Eastern Buddhist teacher Vasubandhu wrote that “all conditioned things are impermanent, and, all phenonema are selfless.”

Mediation is a great way to explore the three doors.  It requires a process of working with our minds and observing the patterns that have become habitual and cause us to “suffer.”  I am trying to use meditation time to focus on each of the three doors, Emptiness in the Morning, Signlessness in the afternoon and Aimlessness in the evening.

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