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Treasure of the Hearth

March 7, 2010

Recently I attended a lecture sponsored by the Phoenix Friends of C.G. Jung, and given by Stephen Gerringer of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. It was a fascinating talk, and I am sure I will find material from it to use for a long time to come, but in this post, I am referring to one of Gerringer’s final stories….

It was a myth originally told by Buber, re-told by Heinrich Zimmer, Jr. A poor young rabbi named Isaac had a dream that he would find his treasure under the Charles Bridge in the town of Prague. Prague was a long way off, but after having the dream three times, he chose to honor it, and set out for the faraway city, and in fact, wore his shoes out on the walk to get there. But when he arrived, the bridge was heavily guarded, so he waited, and waited, and waited to find his opportunity to get under the bridge so he could dig for the treasure. The Captain of the guard, one day, went up to Isaac and asked him why he had been there, day after day. Isaac told him about the dream, at which the guard laughed and said it must be false because he had been having dreams that he should go to Cracow and there he would find a great treasure under the hearth of the home of the poor Rabbi Isaac. Upon hearing this, Isaac went back home and dug up under his hearth, finding a great treasure therein. He built a monastery and lived the rest of his life in comfort.

Zimmer’s comment on the myth, “Now the real treasure … is never far away; it is not to be sought in any distant region; it lies buried in the innermost recess of our home, that is to say, our own being. … But there is the odd and persistent fact that the one who reveals to us the meaning of our cryptic inner message must be a stranger, of another creed and foreign race.”

In other words, we need to go outside of ourselves to find the treasure that has been within us all along.

This story rings true for me. How often I have gone outside of myself, looking for “the answers,” only to find that the answers I seek are within me all along. For several years, I studied with a mystery school, and part of that study involved meditation and ruthless self-examination. But I had no idea how much I had learned until I began attending holistic and esoteric classes on different subjects. So many times, I felt as though I could have taught the class or given the lecture. However, I still hadn’t learned that most of the classes are to help us to RE-member what we already know.

In the long run, after all of the adventures, after all of the seminars and CDs and books, it really comes down to our own heart and what rings true for us. These are the real treasures – the treasures of our hearth, our warmth, our hearts. But we won’t be able to recognize them until we travel outside looking for our treasures. Only then, with the assistance of someone who points the way, do we learn where the treasures really are.

Have you found your treasure yet? Perhaps it is time for you to step outside so that you can find it. And I know just the guide for you.

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