What The NeverEnding Story Tells Us About Searching For Knowledge.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Today wanted to have a little fun. I was rewatching the classic 80’s film the NeverEnding Story. You know the one with Falkor the Luckdragon. Well, I noticed in the movie there are some interesting lessons that can be learned from Atreyu. The scene I am thinking of is when he is at Engywook’s house and the gnome is explaining how to get to the Southern oracle. He explains that Atreyu will have a set of tests. They are the Gate of Worth and the Magic mirror gate. Both gates have a certain challenge that our hero Atreyu has to overcome. Then and only then he is able to speak to the Southern Oracle and find out how he is supposed to heal Fantasia.

I then was looking to see if the book had specific names for these gates. I discovered that there are actually three gates that Atreyu has to cross. Then I liked how all three of the gates fit in nicely with the big challenges every man must face when he is walking his path. That is what I want to talk about today.

The Three gates

There are three gates in the NeverEnding Story. Those gates are The Great Riddle gate, the Magic Mirror Gate, and the No Key Gate. Each gate has its own unique and perilous challenge to the person seeking answers. These gates are similar to the different challenges a person who is working on themselves must face. Now I don’t know if the author Michael Ende had these personal challenges in mind when he wrote about them but I did see a striking similarity with what most people face.

The Great Riddle Gate

This first gate in the movie is the one with the two huge sphinxes. They have their eyes closed and Atreyu watches as a knight who acts sure of himself right up to the gate and destroyed as he tried to cross the gate. Engywook explains that the sphinxes are able to see into a man’s heart and anybody who doesn’t think they are worthy will is killed. In the book, it is a little different and fits with your life challenges even better. The books state that the person who is not worthy is stuck and has to answer all of the world’s riddles before he can continue. This is practically impossible to do and most people end up dying of old age before they can answer all of the world’s riddles. Therefore, you can see it is a little less dramatic than being blown up as in the movie.

So the key is how much confidence and self-worth is, do you believe in yourself? You have to be bold and sure of yourself when you go to attempt anything new. If you don’t think, you are able to achieve the new challenge in your life you are frozen in fear and are always questioning your motives. You are questioning whether you are actually even able to complete the task at hand. Many men are never even able to start their journey because they don’t think they are actually able to do what they want to set out to do.  So are you able to cross the first gate? You are already ahead of most of the pack if you are can cross this gate.

The Magic Mirror Gate

Once Atreyu is past the first gate, he is faced with a more challenging gate, the magic mirror gate. This gate is supposedly driven men mad as they approach the gate as these strong brave men and they are shown to be sniveling cowards. Honest men are shown to be lying cheats. So when Atreyu approaches the gate he sees Sabastian sitting and reading a book. Atreyu doesn’t find this intimidating just a bit odd and proceeds with his quest.

This mirror, or a semblance of it, shows up many times in stories. Luke in the cave on Dagobah, fights with himself. This is often the biggest challenger for entrepreneurs or anybody wanting to make a big shift in their life. They have to learn to get out of their own way and that they are true to how they really are. Through the work of striving towards our goal, we struggle with our whys and finding out if, we really can get to our objective. Many times, we hit a wall and we can proceed because our egos or mindset keeps us from really achieving the solution.

The No Key Gate

In the movie, there is no mention of the No Key gate but in the book, this is a door that is made of a material that does the opposite of what you want. The challenge is then how do you go through a door that will remain closed if you want to enter it and will open if you don’t want to enter it. In the book, this last gate plagues Atreyu. He doesn’t understand how he is supposed to get through a door that will remain shut if you want to go through it. Well, he loses his memory when he passes through the Magic Mirror gate, so he doesn’t care to enter the door which in turn causes the door to open.

This screams out our inherent battle with worry. We worry and obsess about “what ifs”. Way before we even have to actually make this problem an issue. Mark Twain famously said…

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened

Mark Twain

We worry about stuff that doesn’t matter in the great scheme of things. We worry about should we get a business license or how many times should I write a blog. Which is important but not important at the time of just starting. You have 3 customers and you’re obsessing over how to hire somebody. WE have so much that we worry about yet the vast majority is out of our control that you don’t need to apply brainpower to it until it happens. Recognize that you may have to deal with that issue down the road but at this second, it isn’t going to affect you.

We all have different challenges but these three gates are all standing between you and your southern oracle, or your quest for knowledge. Therefore, you have all the tools and weapon you need to face each adversary in turn yet it take inward reflection and a steady mind which we all have.  So don’t beat yourself up with how to get past them till you are faced with them and understand the purpose of your quest and you will reach that oracle and be able to step up to the next level.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.


  1. Bryan,

    I like and agree with much of your take on the lessons to be gleaned from the Southern Oracle testing gates from The Neverending Story save the “NoKey Gate.” Worry and doubt are covered by the first gate. The “NoKey Gate” teaches us about patience and moving mountains. There are times when a man has worked long and hard and patiently for great legths toward his ultimate acheivements. He spends his waking hours tending his goal, ever moving toward it with his very life force being spent in realizing his dreams. He builds toward his life-dream as he trudges gladly, patiently with effort and intent closer and closer with each step until one day the fruition of his years of life and labor appears to him as a vision cresting the horizon. He is suddenly very aware of the nearness of all that he has worked for, sacrificed for and built stone by stone for all this time. It is at this moment that so many men forgo the pace and patient trekking forward they have maintained for the entirety of the project heretonow, and like madmen in the desert they suddenly burst into a sprint toward the illusion of water baking over the scorched barren desert plain, and using all this focused unaccustomed resource in his haste he dies before the flower has bloomed. It is when the dream is closest that we MUST persevere. We must own our desire, but do not allow ourselves to be owned by it. We must act as the water of the Colorado river. Over millennia the Colorado River turned the flat desert of northern Arizona into the Grand Canyon. It didn’t do it all at once, but grain by grain.

    1. Man, I couldn’t have said it any better. Thank you.

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