I found this moon gate (Yuèliàng Mén) in a Chinese Garden in Shanghai just a few days ago. In many ways, there is nothing special about it in terms of what is the “norm” here in China. It is new in a new garden with very little history or connections to history to be had. The moon gate is basically an invitation to enter into the garden. It makes me think of an invitation to enter into a relationship with the garden, to become one with the garden. And when I think of gardens and beauty, images of the Garden of Eden come to mind where the original invitation to relationship was enacted by Adam and Eve.
The invitation to relationship is a curious act where both parties are engaged in projection and in providing hooks for projections to be caught. Of course, none of this is done consciously when inspired by “love.” In entering into a “love” relationship, we identify with the “other.” We take as a promise that the “other” is the perfection that will complete us. No wonder then that when we bump into the person behind the projection that we get a jolt that leaves us totally confused. We wonder what has happened to the person we fell in love with, “Have they been possessed by some alien intelligence?” Probably one of the most common refrains heard when projections fall is the wistful complain, “Why have you changed? Where is the person I married? You are a stranger.”
The truth is, when a person falls in love and marries, he or she is falling in love with projected self and marries the projection. In time, he or she may come to discover the person beneath the projected contents of self; discover that this person is one that becomes the one that receives one’s respect and love of “other.” Unfortunately, the disappointment in finding oneself in bed with a stranger leads to separation and divorce too many times. For beneath the projections is someone that holds the potential for a real and lasting love of equal otherness. The “hooks” to hold the projections are the elements that can become the building blocks of a deeper relationship between self and other. But one must put in a lot of work and time to sort through all of the projections, disappointments, confusion and fantasies in order to arrive at this stage of relationship.
This is what the moon gate holds for me, an entrance into a mysterious garden that holds so many unknowns where I can discover myself and an other.