Discover Your Spiritual Treasure
by Swami Jyotirmayananda
In the Sermon on the Mount, Lord Jesus says, “Lay not up treasure for yourself on the earth where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But lay up your treasures in Heaven where moths and rust will not destroy and thieves cannot break in.”
A statement in the Upanishads provides a definition of the treasure that everyone is seeking – “The Divine Treasure is an effulgent treasure and that effulgent treasure lies within your heart.” Lord Jesus reflects the Upanishadic wisdom by saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within thee.” In order to discover the Divine Treasure, one must look to the Kingdom of Heaven – the imperishable and eternal Divine basis within one’s own heart.
In contrast, the treasures on earth, as well as all earthly achievements are perishable. This includes your body, possessions, relatives, situations, and circumstances which are all subject to change. If your mind constantly invests its energy over things that are not abiding, such as your looks, fashions, clothes, and other vanities, then in spite of your external riches, you will remain internally poor and miserable.
In the light of Eastern philosophy, you are a soul moving from embodiment to embodiment. In each embodiment you created an earthly treasure in the form of possessions, the objects to which you were attached. But then, by the inscrutable process of time, you moved from one embodiment and entered into another. What happened to all your treasures? Most people invest their energy in accumulating and multiplying wealth, but very few people give attention to how that wealth should be utilized. Wealth that has been accumulated and earned during your lifetime should be utilized for your deeper fulfillment. The purpose of wealth is not for mere enjoyment of the senses, but to enable you to perform good deeds so that you come closer to God within yourself.
When wealth is a means to spiritual advancement it is a blessed type of wealth; however, when wealth becomes only a means to pamper the ego so that the mind is uncontrolled and undisciplined, that wealth becomes a curse. If you lack satisfaction, peace, and serenity in your heart, the wealth and power that you possess is meaningless, even though you may have all that you want externally in the world.
Life should be lived in such a way that your mind recognizes the greatest treasure – the attainment of Self-realization. That profound awareness that you and God are one and the direct knowledge that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. If you were truly rich in this sense, a pervasive stability and calmness would be reflected in your personality. With earthly treasure you can never rest assured, and the greater the treasure, the greater is your worry and anxiety. Spiritual treasure however, is devoid of these worries. This doesn’t mean that you should not have material conveniences, but rather material things should be a means to an end and should not outweigh your personal aspiration.
An episode from the life of Alexander the Great illustrates his awareness of the impermanence of material wealth. Although his life was short and he died rather young, prior to his death he had conquered most of the civilized world of his time, and had therefore accumulated immense wealth. Before dying however, his instructions were that upon his death his hands should be outstretched so that people understood he carried nothing with him.
The ancient symbolism of the cross is also a part of Vedic symbolism and differentiates between horizontal or material values, and the vertical, or spiritual values. When your mind is constantly thinking of past, present, and future, it is working in a horizontal way. When you think of God and your mind turns towards God, it is a vertical process. In a vertical process you are transcending the world of time and space, and developing an awareness that true happiness rests neither in the past nor future, but rather, happiness dwells right within your heart wherein time and space are transcended.
To understand this concept more clearly, reflect upon deep sleep where time and space are transcended. You also transcend your ego, and are free of all worries and anxieties. But deep sleep however, occurs according to Nature’s compulsion. How wonderful it would be if you could unburden your mind, so that while awake and handling the various problems of the world, your mind remained relaxed and flowed towards the Divine Self? To feel a closeness with God and a sweet sense of surrender to the Divine Will constitutes the God-ward or vertical movement of the mind, intercepting the horizontal world of time and space.
The moment that you begin to enjoy the vertical movement, it becomes clear that you should exercise care and not get overly involved in the world. Whenever you react or use harsh words and display bitterness, you get stuck with the sticky substance of the world and it is rather difficult to get “unstuck.” Even though you are relaxed, your mind continues to dwell upon the burdens of the world. The art has to be learned to live your life with such adaptability and wisdom that having done your chores and duties, you can remain relaxed, and in the midst of activities your mind does not lose sight of the Divine Presence. It is then possible to enjoy serenity, which shines brighter than any gold or diamond.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (KJV Matthew 5:16).
You are allowing your light to “so shine before men” when goodness expresses through your personality, when situations provoke your mind to anger or revenge and you do not retaliate. Worship of God from a more profound level implies creating a tremendous transformation within your own personality, so that your heart becomes a temple. Your thoughts, your feelings, your words and your actions become fundamental ingredients for worshipping God. They all waft the aroma of Divine worship. You express the glory of God through the very life that you live.
May God Bless You! Hari OM Tat Sat!