City of Nine Gates, City of Ten Gates

City of nine gates, city of Ten gates
Mystically, the human form. Many Indian mystics have described the body as a house or a city of nine (or ten) gates or doors – there being nine sensory portals through which the attention can spread out into the world. These are the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, the mouth and the the two lower apertures. The inner door, the eye centre or third eye, has consequently been called the tenth door or gate. Nine doors lead out while one leads within.

city of nine gates

The Embodied Soul Lives In The City Of Nine Gates


The metaphor also appears in two places in early Christian texts. The most definitive mention comes in a Gnostic allegory found among the Nag Hammadi collection of texts. [Named after the region in Egypt where they were discovered in 1945, these ancient books have become the most important source for the understanding of gnosticism.] The story concerns a certain Lithargeol, symbolic of the Saviour, who invites Peter, the apostles and all the poor people of a certain place called “Habitation” to  his own city. His purpose is to give them the “pearl of great price “the treasure of spirituality.” Everything in this story is symbolic, much as it is in other spiritual romances like the Acts Of Thomas, and when Peter asks Lithargoel for the name of his city, the reply is metaphorical. Peter asks:

“What is the name of the place to which you go, your city?”

He said to me,” This is the name of my city, Nine Gates. And Let us praise God that we are mindful that the tenth is (in) the head.”

Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles 6

Habitation” means this world, which souls inhabit, but where they do not permanently dwell. However it is the realm where the Saviour, Lithargoel, finds his souls. The place to which he is taking them is the city of the nine gates, within the body; and the gateway to this city lies in the head – the inner door. The story continues, and the meaning is further clarified when the companions find themselves seated outside this gateway to Lithargoel’s city:

A great joy came upon us and a peaceful carefreeness like that of our Lord. We rested ourselves in front of the gate, and we talked with each other about that which is not a distraction of this world. Rather we continued in contemplation of the faith.

Acts of Peter and The Twelve Apostles 8

The writer is alluding to concentration of the attention at this inner gateway. “Great Joy” and “Peaceful carefreeness like that of our Lord” comes over them, and they keep their minds focused on the inner reality, avoiding all distractions of the world.

Related topic: Spiritual Meditation – Dancing with God

The other reference to this metaphor is to be found in the Acts of Thomas in an episode where the soul, in human form, is being  likened  to a beautiful dancing girl at a marriage party. Each part of her body is given a symbolic meaning, among them being the observation that her ten “fingers point out the gates of the city” of the human form.

The damsel is the daughter of light, in whom consists and dwells the proud brightness of kings. And the sight of her is delightful, she shines with beauty and cheer… Her fingers point out the gates of the city.

Act of Thomas 6

It is difficult to say where the metaphor came from. Perhaps reference to the ten portal of the body was a common but secret part of Jesus’ esoteric teachings. Nevertheless, its presence  among the early Christian literature is intriguing. Maybe it arose spontaneously as a self-evident observation of human structure. However, the expression is found in the Upanishads, which were extant at the time. So, through Buddhist missionaries in Alexandria, as well as through contact along the Eastern Trade routes to India, China and the Far East, Indian philosophy and expression could have reached the Middle East and the West. Also some Middle Eastern mystics, such as the first century Apollonius of Tyana are known to have visited the holy men of India and, through them, Indian terminology could have found its way back into the Middle East.

A treasury of Mystic Terms Part I, Volume 5

The Individual Comes To Experience Joy And Peace In “The  City  of  Nine  Gates.”

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility…It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where he who does not love would faint and lie down. Love is watchful and sleeping, slumbereth not. Though weary, it is not tired; though pressed, it is not straitened; though alarmed, it is not confounded…

Thomas a Kempis, as quotes in words on Love and Caring

Though it seems very interesting theory which one would or would not believe but there is a great truth which lies behind this. We should understand the reason of life and how this body which is also called the city of nine gates can help us live a better life. We must know to control these gates and use them wisely as this world is full of distractions thus polluting this city of nine gates. We should learn and focus on the Tenth gate for the greater joy in life. We should learn to find this Tenth door which lies hidden in the city of nine gates. One who finds this achieves the true moksha and gets the chance to be one with the divine creator.


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