Jesus once noted, “Where your treasures are, there shall your heart be.” In the fundamentalism that I grew up in, I certainly understood that this teaching meant that the true “stuff” of life was not to be found in “this world.” But now, I’ve aged a bit and I value this and His other teachings even more as I approach them from less an intellectual manner and more with a combination of intelligence and intuition (i.e. affect). Aging, and the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” have done their work on me and I approach the whole of life, including spiritually, with more personal involvement.
One main difference in my understanding of this wisdom now lies in what back then was my culture’s distinction between “this world” and “the other world” which I guess was heaven. I think that the treasure that Jesus had in mind was something which we can find during our tenure on earth, a treasure which certainly is “eternal” but I don’t think “eternity” is a quantity of life anymore. I think that Jesus was offering us an early version of the Shakespearean wisdom, “Within be rich, without be fed no more.” Jesus was teaching us the lesson of other great spiritual teachers that there is a quality of life that is missed if we make that what Alfred Lord Whitehead called, “The fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” Misplaced concreteness is taking that which is ephemeral and perceiving and thinking it to be “real.” This is very much a version of the Platonic cave allegory about what is “real” and what is “unreal.” Jesus was telling us that if our “treasure” was in the material realm, we were missing the primary purpose of life which was, and still is, to “shuffle off this mortal coil” while still living and discover that we have something inside which satisfies where that which is “outside” only leaves us empty. Furthermore, this is what he had reference to when he posed the question, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”
The emptiness of our modern day is so apparent in that we have allowed the mandate of capitalism to drive us into trying to fill that internal emptiness with “stuff.” And very much related to this, the “thing-ification” that we have acquired from our culture’s emphasis on “stuff” has turned even “god” into an item of “stuff,” meaning he is only a sterile concept. Technically our “highest value,” ( i.e. “god”) is “stuff” which is illustrated in the rampant consumerism.