Imagine you inherited a box that contains everything you ever wanted.
But there is a little problem; the box is locked with a pad lock and you don’t have the key.
So you take the box to a master locksmith and he gives you the bad news:
The lock can’t be picked or broken.
But there is good news as well:
There in a room that has all the keys to every lock ever made and you are free to look inside and find the key to your box.
Imagine yourself inside this “key” room, holding your box, standing in front of a pile of a million keys.
What would you do?
One thing you can do is to take a key and force it into the lock and if it doesn’t work force it even more and just keep on forcing despite the fact that it still doesn’t work.
That sounds kind of stupid, I know.
Who in his right mind would do a thing like that. Right?
Well, you would be surprised but that is exactly what all of us do at one point or another in our life :)
Another thing you can do is to pick up random keys from the pile and try them one at the time.
That still sounds kind of silly if you ask me, but at least there is a chance you might get lucky and find the right key for your lock.
Who would do a thing like that?
Once again, we all do – right after we figured out that “forcing” a key doesn’t work :)
There is of course another approach.
You can look at the pad lock and find different criteria, like size and shape, that can help you select the right key.
You can then throw away the keys that are too big or too small and narrow down the rest of the keys by their shape.
Of course the more criteria you can find the more precise you will be in finding the right key.
So there is a lesson here to be learned.
We all are looking to find the “key” to our life, the answers to our problems but the way we are doing it is often the wrong way.
The important thing is not the “key” not the answer but the “lock” or the question we are trying to answer.
The lock you are trying to unlock, the question you are trying to answer is YOU.
You might think that what would make you happy is a wonderful wife and a white picket fence house when in fact what would make you happy could be a burly truck driver named Joe.
You might think that the key to your happiness is getting that promotion to the branch manager position but the real key to your happiness could be driving an eighteen wheeler down the interstate.
So stop whatever you are doing and ask yourself really seriously:
-Who am I?
And thus the journey to every Buddhist student starts :)