04. Treasure Hidden In A Field

Again, the kingdom of Heaven is compared to treasure being hidden in the field, which finding, a man hid; and for the joy of it, he goes and sells all things, as many as he has, and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)

We have spoken of the field as being the human mind but we need to see that when we speak of the mind, we refer to those things that make it up. A mind without ideas or concepts can hardly be called a mind so when we speak of the mind, we also mean the ideas and concepts that give the mind its quality. So, the field is not some abstract faculty called the mind, it is the very ideas and concepts that make up the ground from which we think. All ideas and concepts in the mind are organised into a mental structure that reflects their compatibility with each other. Ideas that are most complementary with each other are bundled together and remain closely connected in the thought whereas ideas that are not so close or may even be antagonistic, are set further apart and this is what creates various bodies of thought that hang together. For example, there are natural ideas that relate to everyday natural affairs and there are spiritual ideas that relate to our sense of God and eternal life.

If I were a baker, then the ideas I have that relate to my employment can be classed as natural ideas that form a field of practical and theoretical knowledge that relates to producing bakery goods. This knowledge would hang together as is seen when I am engaged in specific tasks in which I have to draw on this knowledge. But this is not the only area of knowledge I have, if say, I also own my own bakery business, then, I also have to have knowledge that relates to its financial and marketing aspects of the business. My knowledge of baking and my knowledge of bookkeeping are separate areas of knowledge brought together in this case due to my ownership of a bakery business. But while these knowledge areas are related in this way, each draws from a separate field of knowledge and it’s important that I am able to keep the two fields apart and draw only on what’s relevant for the task at hand. If I was filing a tax return and the only thing that came to mind while trying to do this was a new recipe for Danish pastry, I wouldn’t get very far. The point is that we experience the organisation of the various kinds of knowledge we possess as having boundaries which enables us to think clearly in the context of the tasks we are involved with. Thus, symbolically we can say that knowledge is organised into fields. This idea of knowledge being a field is clearly seen in that people are often asked metaphorically “…what field of work they are in?”

So “the kingdom of heaven” we are told, “is like treasure hidden in a field…” This field is the field that specifically relates to the kingdom of heaven and as such must be a field of spiritual knowledge, or of knowledge that relates to the principles and laws of spiritual life. Such knowledge, when in our mind, forms our doctrine or understanding of spiritual things.So this field we are looking at here today is all the knowledge, ideas, concepts and truths you have learnt over the course of your life that relate to some aspect of religious and spiritual life. But for many of us our experience is that a lot of this knowledge can lie dormant in our memories for many years. We receive religious instruction throughout our childhood and then find that when we enter adulthood we have no real use or affection for it. And so we go through life making our own way without really giving spiritual matters any serious thought in terms of it having an actual impact on our life. Or we may even continue to attend our usual religious activities or read and listen to various forms of teaching related to spiritual topics but in terms of its actual application, it remains fairly external without any real sense of any need to apply what we are learning to our inner states of life.

There’s a passage in the work Heaven and Hell that talks about this in relation to those who, having died, enter the spiritual world fairly confident of going to heaven because their external behaviour while in the world was reasonably moral and civil. But when they undergo a process of examination in preparation for their final state they then find that the true quality of their external behaviour in the world is determined by the quality of their inner life, or their inner motivations. In this way, they begin to awaken to reality of the spiritual laws of life, which show that it is the motives or intentions that lie behind our external actions that determine the quality of our spiritual life. So having arrived in the World of Spirits where every person who dies undergoes a process of preparation prior to entering heaven or hell we read this from the work…

Almost all of them want to know whether they will make it into heaven. Many of them think they will because they led moral and civic lives in the world, not reflecting that both evil and good people lead similar outward lives, being similarly helpful to others, going to church, listening to sermons, and praying similarly, utterly unaware that outward behaviour and outward worship accomplish nothing whatever; only the inner realities that give rise to these outward ones are effective. Scarcely one in thousands even knows what the inner realities are or that they are the focal point of heaven and the church for us. Even fewer realize that the quality of our outward actions is determined by the quality of our intentions and thoughts and the love and faith within them, from which our actions arise. Even when they are told, they do not grasp the fact that thinking and intending actually make a difference. They attach importance only to speaking and acting. (Heaven and Hell 494)

With statements like this in the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity, we needn’t remain in ignorance concerning the spiritual laws of life, nor do we have to wait until we have passed from this world to be enlightened but we now have an opportunity to find, in this incredibly fertile field, treasures that relate to the life to come right now in the present of our current experience of life.

Last time we saw in the parable of the woman who took leaven and hid it in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened, how we experience the operation of the kingdom of heaven and the impact of its principles or laws upon our own states of life as we look to live from the Lord’s Word. There we saw that when a genuine affection for truth begins to operate within us then a process of fermentation begins which spiritually is a growing sensitivity and anxiety building due to a conflict between natural and spiritual desires and the ideas that promote them. From the perspective of the natural man, it looks as though our growing interest in spiritual things is the cause of the internal difficulties we are experiencing.

This is why it is said that the woman took the leaven and hid it in the meal. But we know that nothing from heaven, and thus from the Lord, looks to create difficulties or unpleasantness in our lives. So, a genuine affection for truth, because it is from the Lord, doesn’t actually mix leaven or evil and falsity in with what is good. But its presence certainly stirs up what is evil and false within us and brings it into the light where it can be seen and felt, and hopefully dealt with.

Whether it is dealt with or not is very much tied to what we value, what we treasure. This is seen in the words of Jesus in the Gospels who said…

Do not treasure up for you treasures on the earth, where moth and rust cause to perish, and where thieves dig through and steal. But treasure up for you treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust cause to perish, and where thieves do not dig through and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

These words encourage us to examine where our focus is – is it on the things of the world or is it on the things of heaven? To value the Word for what it can accomplish in our lives in terms of heavenly goals, is to find the things in it that have a direct bearing on our eternal state of life. The Word and teachings drawn from its spiritual sense is the field we must search, but we will only search if we see that there is treasure in them, and we will only see that treasure if we are motivated by a genuine affection for what is good and true. You see, it is only affections in us from heaven that values the things belonging to the kingdom of heaven. Without this affection, we will see nothing of value in the Word and we will not be motivated to act on its truths or principles as far as examining and dealing with our inner states of life.

The Greek word translated in our English Bibles with the word “treasure” is quite revealing. When this word is broken down into its elements, we have a literal meaning which is “placed-into-morrow.” The central idea here at a natural level being something held over for the future, something placed in tomorrow. From a spiritual perspective what is future or of the morrow has to do with a focus on spiritual or eternal life. In our natural experience of time the future or morrow refers to what lies ahead of us, from a spiritual perspective what lies ahead of us is a change in our state of life. The major change for every human being occurs when we go from being conscious here in the natural world to awakening into the spiritual world after the death of the natural body.

The treasure hid in the field then is those truths in the Word that if we make a part of our life becomes the basis of heaven within us. Let’s return for a moment to the teaching we read from Heaven and Hell 494. There is a real treasure in this field and it has to do with realising that it is “inner realities…that are the focal point of heaven and the Church for us…” and that how we “think and intend actually makes a difference.” A difference in regard to what? Our eternal state of life. If we value this teaching then that will be reflected in our responses to it, we will treasure it. Having found it we will see that we hide it in our hearts and begin to examine our thoughts and intentions for those things in us opposed to the spiritual life, looking to the Lord to have them removed so that the kingdom of heaven might be a fuller reality in our lives.

Notice that the once the man found the treasure his response was to hide it in order to acquire it. Under Jewish law if a person who found treasure in a field was to be assured of gaining permanent possession of it, would need to purchase the field. The ownership of the field entitled the owner to all that the field contained. This natural law corresponds to a spiritual law and it is this; until we make spiritual principles our own, through taking them into our life and living from them, they are not really ours and will not remain with us in the life to come.

To have a permanent impact on our spiritual states of life we have to work with spiritual teachings in our life to make them our own, so that they become something that is integrated into the very fabric of who we are. The hiding of the treasure is to protect it from being undermined by the rationalisations of the natural man or that part of us that doesn’t want things to change. This is because to hide something is to conceal it from the senses, so to hide this treasure is to actively resist all the excuses we can come up with for not making spiritual things a priority in our lives.

When the true value of what we have in the Word is realised, there is a burst of joy that springs from the spirit within of having found what every human heart truly seeks – the means by which we can be reconnected with the Lord, with heaven and with all that is genuinely good and true. While the spiritual life is not without its struggles, these are far outweighed by the joy that comes from having found the way into the kingdom of heaven through having it find its way into us. If these things are truly valued, then the joy of this empowers us to be able to make the necessary shift in our priorities; to go and sell all that we have so that we might make these wonderful teachings a real and permanent part of who we are.

To sell all that we own is to no longer allow the kinds of things that arise from the loves of self and the world within our minds to govern our thinking and feeling states of life. It is to work to have instilled into us a new principle of life, a heavenly principle, the kingdom of heaven, which can only ever be found in loving the Lord and loving our neighbour. These loves are the true field the Lord offers to us to purchase in every moment of our lives. From this field of heaven-sent love springs the joy of eternal life. From this field springs every truly wise and loving idea, designed to fill every human mind with the light they need to live full and useful lives. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hid in a field, and those who find it are those who truly value the things of heaven over the things of the world.

To enable me to know what heaven and heavenly joy are and what their quality is, though, the Lord has allowed me to feel the pleasures of heavenly joy often and at length. Because this was living experience, I may indeed know about them, but there is no way to describe them. Still, something should be said in order to provide at least some notion about them. There is an effect of countless pleasures and joys that unite to present a single something, a unity or united affection that contains a harmony of countless affections that do not come through to consciousness individually, only vaguely, because the consciousness is so very general. It was still possible to perceive that there were countless elements within it, so beautifully arranged as to defy description. The qualities of those countless elements flow from the very design of heaven; and this kind of design is resident in the very least affections, affections that are manifest and perceived only as a very general unity, depending on the perceptive ability of the subject. In a word, there are infinite elements in a most intricate form in every general entity, and there is nothing that is not alive and does not affect everything even at the very center, since heavenly joys emanate from the very center. I have also noticed that heavenly joy and delight seemed to be coming from my heart, spreading very subtly through all my inner fibers and from there into the gatherings of fibers with such a profound sense of pleasure that my fibers seemed to be nothing but joy and delight, and everything I perceived and felt was alive with bliss. Next to these joys, the joy of physical pleasures is like crude and irritating dust compared to a pure and gentle breeze. I noticed that when I wanted to convey all my pleasure to someone else, a deeper and fuller pleasure flowed in ceaselessly in its place. The more I wanted to convey it, the more it flowed in; and I perceived that this was from the Lord. (Heaven and Hell 413)

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