The treasure house in the Course is best understood as a contrast to a conventional treasure house. On the literal level, this is “a building, room, or chamber used as a storage place for valuables.” But more broadly, it is any place in which we store what is treasured by us—all the way from a safety deposit box, to a trophy room, to a photo album of special friends and family members, to the garage that houses our treasured car.
The treasure we store in the treasure house of the world consists of things of the world, things of the ego. They can be tangible, like money, possessions, or even special relationship partners. Or they can be intangible, like specialness. This treasure house is basically private—it is ours alone. We do our best to save, to hoard, to hold back from carelessly giving it all away. And we protect it from others walking off with what is rightfully ours.
This treasure house is absolutely haunted by fear of loss. Anything we value in the world we are going to be afraid of losing. So we lock the doors. We are careful who we trust. If we have the ability, we even station guards. In spite of this, the Course repeatedly pictures our treasure house with open doors, signifying the fact that it is literally impossible to keep them locked. No matter how hard we try, loss is always a possibility.
But the real problem is not loss. It’s that there is nothing there of value in the first place. In spite of all our hoarding, we only “stored a heap of snow that shone like silver.” And so our treasure house is pictured as empty and barren, and we who depend on it for our sustenance are pictured as starving.
The main themes of the world’s treasure house, therefore, are loss and emptiness.
Compare this with our real treasure house, which we will call the treasure house of God. This is not a place in the world, but a place in the mind, a place outside the conscious mind. It is not a place that we ourselves fill with valuables. Rather, God Himself has filled it with treasure. And therefore its store is not the meager quantity found in our earthly treasure houses. Rather, it is filled with an “unlimited supply.” And all of it “can be received but for the asking.” How completely different this is from the treasure house of the world!
The treasure in this house consists of the gifts of God. These are experiential gifts. They include Christ’s vision—seeing our brother’s holiness, experiencing our true Self, and all the peace, joy, and love that come along with right-mindedness.
We lay hold of these gifts through our Workbook practice. Every time you do a practice period, even if you think you felt nothing, “you lay another treasure in your growing store.” The goal of our practice, then, is to make the treasure house conscious, or, to put it another way, to consciously unite with it, to enter into our treasure house and make ourselves at home.
There is one more key component, though. Once we make the treasures conscious, we need to give them to our brothers in the form of miracles—expressions of love. Rather than depleting our treasure house, this will cause our store to grow. The Course pictures the brothers we have healed with our miracles streaming into our treasure house, bearing yet more treasures with which to fill it.
That is the process of the treasure house: receive the gifts from God, give them to our brothers, and thereby receive them even more fully. As the Course puts it, “There is no miracle you cannot give, for all are given you. Receive them now by opening the storehouse of your mind where they are laid, and giving them away.”
In contrast to the treasure house of the world, then, the real treasure house is communal, rather than private. Here, just as with the world’s treasury, the doors are open, but in this case they have been opened on purpose, so that our starving brothers can come in and “enjoy the feast of plenty set before them there.”
The treasure house of God is not haunted by loss. Instead, it’s just the opposite. The Course repeatedly stresses that “not one gift is lost, and only more are added.” “Not one is lost, for they can but increase.” And so it seems that we can give the miracle and it can be lost because the recipient didn’t accept or appreciate it, but the truth is that a treasure has been placed in store, waiting for the inevitable time when he will receive it. It can seem that the love that passes between others can diminish what we have, but in truth the gift is just as much ours as theirs, and so the love between them adds additional treasures to our store. It can seem that when we take a treasure from the store, the store has been depleted, but in fact it has been increased. It can seem that we can try to receive a gift of God and fail, but the truth is that whenever we try we add another gift to our treasury.
Therefore, the loss that pervades the worldly treasure house is unknown here. In the same way, the barrenness and emptiness of the world’s treasury is also not present. For the treasures of God are real, and they are unlimited.
In every way, then, the treasure house of God is the opposite of the treasure house of the world. The latter contains a small amount that we constantly fear losing, and in truth it is already empty. The former contains an unlimited abundance, not one bit of which can ever be lost. The world’s treasury is about hoarding, saving, and in the end, aloneness, while God’s treasury is about giving and about joining. Rather than us being alone in it, counting our gold, we join with our brothers there in a joyous feast, a feast “which has no end.”
This contrast between the two treasure houses places before us a choice: which one will we treasure? Which one will be our focus? Because every second we are seeking some kind of treasure, this choice is before us at all times. The two treasure houses are really two ways to live. Which one will we make our way of life?
This leads to the question I asked at the end of class: If we made our lives totally about the real treasure house, what would that look like? What would we do different? And what do we think the results would be?