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The Lost Key

April 5, 2016
One evening the great Sufi sage, Rabi’a, was under a street lamp on her hands and knees as if searching for something. Soon her neighbors saw her and came out to help. “What are you looking for?” they asked.
“I’m looking for my key; I’ve lost it.” she replied.
Trying to help, the neighbors asked, “About where did you lose it?”
“Over there inside my house,” she replied.
Puzzled by her response, they asked, “Well, if you lost your key in the house, why are you looking out here?”
“Well, the house is very dimly lit; and I can see better out here under the light.” The neighbors roared with laughter; and as the laughter settled down, she began to teach. “After having lost your joy, your sense of connection, why is it that you search outside of yourselves to regain what you lost? You search outside of yourselves where it is brightly lit and convenient for your search. However, you neglect to look within yourselves, where it is dimly lit and very inconvenient. But it is there that you will find what you are looking for.”
So often we look outside ourselves for only that which can be found within. Sometimes we think we will find that fulfillment in the perfect job, the new house, the shiny car. Sometimes we think that relationship will be what give us ultimate fulfillment. How often have we heard of someone’s desire to find that person that “completes them?” Perhaps we think we will regain that sense of something in accepting second-hand dogma. The list of possibilities can go on and on; but ultimately nothing will fully satisfy that existential yearning, until we find the treasure within. In Buddhist tradition, we call this refuge. Too often we try to find refuge in the things that ultimately fail us. However, until we turn within, we will never find what we need.
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