The Four Keys

Shortly after the winter solstice celebration on an early morning I awoke from a dream. It was very short and very clear:

My father rose from the valley of the dead, took my head in both his hands and said: “go in search of the four keys”.

As I woke up, my wondering had already started. What could have been meant by the four keys? What fourfold was the dream pointing at? Why had it to be my father hinting towards some ultimate meaningful direction? Was his careful holding of my childhood-head meant as a loving reassurance that I would open up towards some kind of meeting him at the end of my own life? On condition of finding the four keys and the way to work with them?

I did not have a clue. I knew only this: you have received a really important message, don´t deny or neglect it, but from now on pay full attention. Let this unravel or reveal itself.

Later on that same day I was reading Mark Epstein’s Thoughts Without a Thinker:

„We are all subject to decay, old age, and death, to disappointment, loss and disease. We are all engaged in an futile struggle to maintain ourselves in our own image. The crisis in our life inevitably reveal how impossible our attempts to control our destinies really are. At some point, we all find ourselves in the position of my uncle, trapped between decay and death. The Four Noble Truths take this vulnerability as a starting point, cultivating humility out of the seemingly oppressive and inescapable humiliations of life. Far from the pessimistic religion that Buddhism has been portrayed to be, it is, in fact, relentlessly optimistic. All of the insults to our narcissism can be overcome, the Buddha proclaimed, not by escaping from them, but by uprooting the conviction in a ´self´ that needs protecting”.

Reading these lines, a quiet and lightfull warm feeling spread through my entire being. Yes, this is it! These four noble truths are the four keys that my father pointed at in my dream. The first truth gives insight into the inevitability of humiliation in our life. The second into the craving that renders this humiliation inevitable. The third promises liberation and the fourth gives the tools to work through this process of liberation.

Writing poetry, sketching with pencils, photography and making philosophical remarks may perhaps seem a bit strange as the tools of liberation, as meant by the Buddha. Though, anyhow, I do hope you will not consider them as the positive results of the creative productivity or spiritual growth of its ´inventor`. Let them show their tentative, humble and joyous, playful character. Because, that´s just how we do it: simply playing with different, more heartfelt ways of experiencing, seeing with a different childlike eye, switching between past, present and future visions. See what comes out.