A gatekeeper sits before the gate. As always, it stands open. A traveller asks to be let in.
“No,” the gatekeeper says.
“Maybe,” the gatekeeper says. “But understand that though I am powerful, I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. Before each of the many gates, one after the other, there are other gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other. For instance, I can’t manage even one look at the third.”
“I understand,” the traveller says. “But you look hungry. Have some soup.” The traveller takes a bowl and spoon from his greatcoat and offers some to the gatekeeper. As he does, he trips, and trying to not to spill the soup, stumbles through the gate. He staggers past the first gatekeeper and, still balancing the soup, staggers past the second gatekeeper and the second gate, and as he stumbles through the third gate, he spills soup on the third gatekeeper, so terrible to behold.
“Sorry, sorry,” he says as continues to stumble, now past the fourth gatekeeper, more terrible still, and the fourth gate.
The traveller continues to stagger. He continues to stumble past both gates and gatekeepers, spilling soup on many. He may be stumbling still. It is a mystery not easily explained and he has left the bowl and spoon on the outside.