What does Jesus mean by "treasure"?
The word "treasure" is translated from the Greek word θησαυρός (thēsauros), which means, according to the lexicon, "the things laid up in a treasury" and "collected treasures."
Things we consider valuable, in other words.
So Jesus is saying that whatever we consider valuable is where our hearts will be.
Does he literally mean our heart - as in the organ that pumps blood around the body?
Don't be ridiculous. This is a common metaphor used today to indicate the place from which we love and care. But during Jesus' time - as indicated by the Greek word being translated to "heart" - καρδία (kardia) - it indicates the spiritual person within.
This is confirmed by the lexicon, as it states:
"the centre and seat of spiritual life; the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours; of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence; of the will and character; of the soul so far as it is affected and stirred in a bad way or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions"This word thus refers to not the heart of the physical body, nor just one's feelings of love or compassion. The word καρδία (kardia) indicates Jesus is speaking of the consciousness exhibited by the internal spirit-person.
This is, frankly, who we are. The reason the word καρδία (kardia) had often been configured to mean ones physical heart is because we are misidentifying ourselves with the physical body.
We think this body is me.
But this is not what Jesus really taught. Jesus taught that we are not these physical bodies. He taught that we are the spirit-person within - who may be residing within the body currently but who will leave the body at the time of death:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt 10:28)
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." (Luke 12:22)This spirit-person is invisible to the physical senses. We have no ability to see within this dimension with the physical body. Thus the spirit-person is often confused with the physical body. So how do we distinguish the two?
The primary feature exhibited by the spirit-person within the physical dimension is consciousness. This consciousness pervades the physical body when the spirit-person is occupying the body. But as soon as the physical body dies, the spirit-person leaves, and there is no consciousness remaining within the dead body.
And it is this consciousness of the spirit-person that Jesus speaks of in the statement above.
Freedom of choice
Each of us has an independent consciousness, and each of us thus has the choice of where to focus and point that consciousness. And the consciousness we are left with is determined by a combination of our goals and our activities.
This is our freedom, granted by the Supreme Being. God created us to love and serve Him, but because love requires freedom, He also created us with the freedom of where to point our consciousness.
Each of us has the freedom to either point our consciousness towards Him and our relationship with Him, or we can point our consciousness elsewhere.
And because the freedom the Supreme Being gives must be backed up with practical reality, where we point our consciousness will determine where we go in our lives.
In other words, whatever our dreams are - whatever our goals and motives are - is where we will be directed: In this lifetime and in the next.
This is expressed within the design of the physical world. God created the physical world and gave us each temporary physical bodies with which we can play out our desires and our goals with seeming independence.
God is omnipresent
But because He is the Creator of all things and He is omnipresent within His creation, He is never really gone. We are never really independent of Him.
We might compare this to how a child might be given their own room in their parents' house. The house might be owned by the parents, but the parents will allow the child to have his or her own room. They will allow the child to go into the room and close the door, and most good parents will also respect the child's privacy within the room. But this doesn't mean the child owns that part of the house. It is still the parents' house. They have simply granted the child a limited amount of freedom within the house.
Now, why do good parents often give the child some privacy within their room? Why will they respect the child's diary for example? Because by respecting the child, they teach the child to respect others. They are trying to teach the child.
This is also why they allow the child to shut the door of their room. So the child can sometimes go in the room and figure things out for himself or herself. If they were to hover over the child all day - urging the child at every step - the child's incentive to learn would wane. Children must be given the room to develop their own incentives to learn.
In fact, sometimes a parent will send a disobedient child to their room, "to think things over." This sort of "grounding" or "time out" will allow the child to consider what he or she may have done that was wrong - and decide on their own not to do that thing again.
Why do parents do such things?
The parents want their children to grow up to be responsible adults.
The purpose of the physical world is not so removed from these notions. The Supreme Being in His intelligence and love wants each of us to be happy. He wants us to be fulfilled. And because He created us as His playmates and loving servants, He knows that will fulfill us. But He would never force this upon us. We have to decide on our own that we want to love Him and serve Him.
So He gives us the complete freedom - the complete choice to embrace our relationship with Him or not.
And for those who choose not to love Him - He allows us to exercise our freedom by forgetting our relationship with Him and even for some, becoming convinced that He does not exist.
Yes, this physical world is like the child's room in the parents' house because we can go inside our room of our physical body within this plane of existence, and shut the door on our relationship with God.
Here we can choose a myriad of possibilities with regard to Him. We can decide He doesn't exist. Or we can decide He does exist but His existence is meant for our enjoyment - He is our genie of sorts and He delivers whatever we pray for.
Or we can decide that He stands for a sectarian organization within which we can work our way up the ladder and become the big priest and tell others what to do.
Or we can decide that we are agnostic and we are not sure if He exists or not.
Each of these options is not only provided by the Supreme Being as an expression of His giving us the freedom to love Him or not - He actually facilitates whatever choice we want to make. He makes it happen in other words. However we want to ignore or escape our relationship with Him, He facilitates.
For a person who wants to deny God's existence, the Supreme Being gives that person the different theories of astrophysicists who have pushed God out of the picture of creation.
And for a person who wants to believe that God is simply his genie - ready to fulfill every desire - He gives that person the reasoning to be convinced of that.
And for the person who wants to use religiosity to have authority over others - He provides the means in the form of sectarian institutions through which the person can climb the ladder and be the big priest or cardinal or even pope.
God facilitates our desires
Yes, God facilitates all of these desires and more - through the illusory nature of the physical world.
The parent does similar things to facilitate the child's seeming independence: A parent might buy the child a desk and a computer and all the toys and games for their room. They want to give the child their own space where the child can develop and learn. Even if it means the child will get lost in those toys and games.
In the same way, the Supreme Being has created all the potential relationships, material possessions, ability to grab name and fame, and so much more, so that we can play out all our desires. And His illusory energy allows us to think we are these physical bodies - even though we are obviously not.
But just as the parents will try to buy toys and games that teach the child something, the Supreme Being also embeds within the physical world the facilities to learn and grow.
He set up consequences for each and every action here. And He set up experiences that teach us in different ways - that we are in essence, alone without our relationship with Him.
In other words, we can have it all here - we can be famous, wealthy, have a big family and a big house. We can be respected and have all the money we could ever want. Or not.
But regardless of what we have or don't have, we will remain empty within. We will find those things simply won't make us happy. Nor will our rejection of those things make us happy.
And within each of those things, we will also find a myriad of complications and lessons. To keep our fame we will have to serve our fans. Then if we do something that doesn't please them, we fall out of favor and lose our fame.
To keep our family together we will have to mediate squabbles and temper our emotions - only to find that at some point the children leave home and the parents die. To keep our country safe we will have to serve our nation and go to war. To keep our money we will have to find a way to keep the money from being stolen or lost in the market. To keep our house we will have to pay the mortgage and shovel the snow and do all kinds of maintenance.
And at some point - if not before, then when we die - we lose everything. We lose our house and our family and our money and our name and fame.
Why? Why are we given things only to have them taken away? Why do things here never last? And why are there wars, starvation, hatred, discrimination? Why do our bodies die?
This is all part of the learning experience that the Supreme Being set up for us. The first is that the physical world is a temporary experience - and we are not these physical bodies. They don't last. After all, if He were to create a permanent set up with no troubles or learning experiences, would there ever be any incentive for us to reclaim our eternal identity and embrace our eternal relationship with Him?
Certainly, this would be futile. This might be again compared to the parents and the child's room. If the parents set up the room to be an apartment for the child as they get older so they could continue to live there and never have to work or get a job - then the child would never become a productive adult.
In the same way, the Supreme Being gives us complete freedom to love Him or not - but He also gives us plenty of learning experiences from which we can grow and evolve - with the hopes that we will at some point become fulfilled spirit-persons as we embrace our eternal relationship with Him. He teaches us that self-centered material happiness - trying to satisfy these temporary physical bodies and our various goals of name and fame - does not satisfy us.
This is expressed in Jesus' statement above. We can choose our treasure and thus where to focus our consciousness: We can focus it on the empty chase for material happiness. Or we can choose to focus our consciousness - our purpose - upon reclaiming our lost loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
It is our choice.
Jesus simply asked that we choose the Supreme Being as our treasure:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)