Finding Inner Treasure

March 19th, 2013

under bridgeHow do you balance desire and contentment; enjoying where you are, but striving for more?

I like this ancient story from the 18th century Rabbi Nachman, and what it says about this balance.

There was once a poor man who lived in Prague. One night he dreamt that he should journey to Vienna. There, at the base of a bridge leading to the King’s palace, he would find a buried treasure.

Night after night the dream recurred until, leaving his family behind, he traveled to Vienna to claim his fortune. The bridge, however, was heavily guarded. The watchful eyes of the King’s soldiers gave him little opportunity to retrieve the treasure. Every day the poor man spent hours pacing back and forth across the bridge waiting for his chance.

After two weeks time one of the guards grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and asked him, “What are you plotting? Why do you keep returning to this place day after day?” Frustrated and anxious, he blurted out the story of his dream. When he finished, the soldier broke into uncontrollable laughter.

The poor man looked on in astonishment, not knowing what to make of the soldier’s attitude. Finally, the King’s guard caught his breath. He stopped laughing long enough to say, “What a foolish man you are believing in dreams. Why, if I let my life be guided by visions, I would be well on my way to the city of Prague. For just last night I dreamt that a poor man in that city has, buried in his cellar, a treasure which awaits discovery.”

The poor man returned home. He dug in his cellar and found the fortune.

Sometimes you have to travel to discover what it means to be at home with yourself.

Sometimes you have to follow distant dreams and desires to realize that the treasure lies within.

Sometimes you have to endure setbacks and overcome obstacles to prepare you for success.

As T.S. Eliot wrote in the poem “Little Gidding”,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

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