The Gateless Gate: The Invisible Path

I’ve been thinking a lot about what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest. It brought me back to the concept of the Gateless Gate, a powerful metaphor from Zen Buddhism. It’s all about the unseen barriers in our minds and in our businesses.

This Gateless Gate symbolizes the invisible challenges we face, molded by our beliefs and societal norms. It’s about acknowledging these challenges and daring to rethink our self-imposed limits.

Buddha once said,

“With our thoughts, we make the world.”

This rings true in business as well.

Let’s talk about the Three Barriers to Success:

1. Money: It’s easy to think success is all about the financial aspect. But it’s crucial to see money as a part of life’s game, not the end goal. Strive for impactful, meaningful achievements.

2. Growth: Limiting our business to a certain scale is a common self-imposed boundary. Break through by envisioning not just revenue growth but a broader, more meaningful impact of your work.

3. Harmony: The belief that a successful career can’t coexist with a fulfilling personal life is a myth. Harmony starts with believing in the possibility of a balanced life.

So, how do we consistently navigate the Gateless Gate?

Seven Zen Steps: Walking Through the Gateless Gate 

Zen, emerging from the traditions of Chan Buddhism in China and later flourishing in Japan, places emphasis on meditation, direct, experiential realization, and the personal expression of insight in daily life.

The “Gateless Gate” in Zen represents an invisible yet significant barrier in our minds. By applying Zen principles, we can learn to navigate these barriers in business, fostering mindfulness, resilience, and a deeper understanding of our purpose.

Step 1: Embrace Mindful Awareness

Practice mindfulness. A daily practice, whether it’s through formal sitting meditation, a mindful walk, or drinking three cups of tea in silence, can help you as you make daily business decisions. Stay present. Stay focused.

Step 2: Simplify and Clarify

Apply Zen’s love for simplicity to streamline your business processes and communications. 

Less is usually always more. 

Step 3: Adopt a Beginner’s Mind

Keep an open, curious mind, ready to learn and embrace new ideas, just like a beginner.  This is challenging when you’ve run your business for decades — like I have. I am entering my 25th year in business and always have to remind myself to look at projects with new eyes.

Listen. There is always so much to learn.

Step 4: Meditation for Insight

Integrate a deliberate practice of meditation into your routine to cultivate deeper insights and clarity. 

Wisdom always comes from within.

Step 5: Compassionate Leadership

Lead with empathy and understanding, building a supportive and collaborative team environment. The most loved leaders are benevolent and kind. Strive to be a leader who holds the whole world in your heart.

Step 6: Flexibility and Acceptance

Develop a flexible approach to business challenges, embracing change and uncertainty. 

When things get tough, give challenges room to breathe.

Step 7: Seek Sleep

Rest like your revenue depends on it.  Sleep helps flourish at work and at home. It’s crucial for long-term success and well-being.

Take a moment to reflect on your path. 

How have you tackled invisible barriers? Your experiences are invaluable for our collective growth.

As we progress in our business ventures, let’s remember the immense potential within us. Each obstacle is an opportunity for greater achievement and self-discovery.

Wishing you many crossings through the Gateless Gate, embracing the invisible path to your unique brand of success.

Wishing you a clear path,


CEO, Citrus Studios