The fourfold in Bernhard Welte's burial speech
at Heidegger's funeral.
In two essays, “Building Dwelling Thinking” and “The Thing,” he also spoke about that which is ever sought for and about death. In these essays there appears the “fourfold” of earth and heavens, of mortals and immortals. Here where we lay his body safely in the earth and where the expanse of heaven opens overhead, we would do well to think of the fourfold. The mortals are mortal because they are capable of death. But in that regard he writes: “Death is the shrine of the Nothing, that is, of that which in every respect is never a mere being but which nevertheless comes to presence, indeed as the mystery of Being itself. As the shrine of the Nothing, death shelters within itself the coming-to-presence of Being. As the shrine of the Nothing death is the shelter of Being [das Gebirg des Seins].” The shelter of Being: therefore death shelters and conceals something. Its “Nothing” is not “just nothing.” It shelters and conceals the goal of the whole path. Here that is called Being.
But what are the divinities? They are, as the essay tells us, “the beckoning messengers of the godhead.” They beckon out of the country of dying, of death, of the Nothing, and of Being, and the path of Heidegger’s thinking went out to meet these beckonings. It was a matter of listening to them and, with these beckonings of the divinities, of anxiously awaiting the epiphany of the divine God. The entire thought of this great thinker was on the way towards this epiphany. And on this path he was directed to endure in thought the distress of a godless time and furthermore to interpret the way of time and world as a way to the epiphany.