The Three Gates as Diagnostic

Steven Barnes
4 min readMay 9

The Three Gates as Diagnostic

More thoughts on the relationship between the Three Gates (Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Useful?)…can we tell anything about those who violate them?

I’m honestly not certain. But am sharing my thoughts.

IF one’s goals are purely mundane, and devoid of spiritual content, then you can indeed lie and practice cruelty, and still reach those goals.

One might then modify the usefulness of the Three Gates to suggest that those who Lie, or practice Cruelty, are either ineffective at reaching their goals, or have no spiritual or ethical content to their goals. IF this is true, then it becomes more and more important to select and nurture goals that will transform you into someone you want to be.

In my system, you choose three goals minimum, in each of three major arenas:

  1. Relationships
  2. Career
  3. Physical health

And this would be the way of looking at it that would make sense to me:

  1. Relationships. Start with self-love. And this needs to be honest, because if not, it won’t hold under pressure. A bunch of ego can produce massive apparent confidence, but watch that person when things go really wrong. Then…extend to one other person, minimum. You can be dishonest here, at the cost of true intimacy, and I hazard that what we want is that deep, connected sense of being seen. That someone, somewhere, gives the final damn whether we live or die. You cannot lie your way into this. You CAN have a transactional relationship: Her beauty for his money is typical and we can point to countless examples of it in major media. But IMO it is no way to live if there is no genuine honesty and connection.
  2. Career. Long-term, honesty and networked relationships work better even just for making money. How else will people of quality know they can trust you with their time, energy, and resources? You might well get away with it for a while, but the quality of the people you work with will get lower and lower. On the other hand, a pattern of honesty and love toward those you do business with allows you to connect and network with other honest, kind people. Guess what? THEY HAVE MONEY TOO. And if you earn your way into THAT network…well, its worth it to reject short-term dishonest gains for long-term deep and lasting success…as well as sleeping better at night.
Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.