by Betty Bland
Originally printed in the MARCH-APRIL 2008 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Bland, Betty. "Treasure Hunt." Quest 96.2 (MARCH-APRIL 2008): 44.
WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN WE HAD A game called a snipe hunt. The game could be played only once on the unwary victim who was stationed in a spot off the beaten path. This "victim" was then told to stay there holding a bag in order to catch the snipe that the rest would be stalking. We were supposed to chase the snipe into the waiting bag. Of course there was no snipe and finally the victim would catch on and come to look for the rest of us who were giggling and playing not too far off. As this is a very old game, it was seldom successfully carried out but was gleefully contemplated as a way of dealing with whoever was considered the neophyte at the time.
A far better variation of this game was a scavenger hunt, in which all were equally given a list of items to be found or "scavenged" in the area. There was the same opportunity to experience the joy of running around in the outdoors, but with no one being left out. All had the same challenge, but they were individual challenges with each individual or team pitted against all the others.
The next step up was the true treasure hunt, in which a map was provided for each or all to explore the territory using the map until the goal was found. Some maps were easier to read than others but "X" always marked the spot where treasure might be found. Although there are all kinds of variations, in the instance I remember, "X" marked the location where refreshments and equal treasure were shared by all. This kind of treasure hunt fits well with an analogy that I would like to draw.
The first instance is the way that we usually begin our spiritual pilgrimage. Everyone else seems to "get it" but we are at a loss as to what it is all about. We just know that there must be something more and so we are liable to do the bidding of some less-than-enlightened teachers. Although our search at this stage can be frustrating, it is a time of learning and growing. Once we see the fallacy of this passive approach, we realize the importance of being active participants. Someone else will not do it for us, but we have to do it ourselves. As Madame Blavatsky admonished in the Proem to The Secret Doctrine (I—17):
In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle,—or the OVER-SOUL,—has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations.
Now this is a pretty heavy statement for those of us who have been hoping we could just rock along with business as usual, believing in various "good things," and that this would be sufficient for the nurture of our soul. Not so, says Blavatsky. We have to determine within ourselves how to re-orient our lives toward understanding our purposes in this world and to live every day by that highest understanding.
In this initial phase, we have an idea about some of the things we are looking for, but the instructions tend to be vaguely generic. We might look in a variety of places, gathering bits of treasure here and there. Although this wide casting about may seem like a waste of time, it truly is not. We grow and deepen through every effort to discover the ultimate treasure, and either slowly or quickly we come to the realization that a search oriented to the outer world will never bring us the true treasure. And the closer we come to glimpsing the treasure, the more we are drawn to approach it as the moth is drawn to the flame.
At this point we reach a new level in our quest. It becomes an almost effortless effort. Now all the random searching has borne its fruit and some inner guidance begins to flower within our being. No matter what tradition or religion we are following, there is a universal thread of truth (often called the ancient wisdom) which will draw us onto the path of no return—the path in the pathless land. Blavatsky (CW XIII 219) refers to it this way:
I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore.
We have received the map and it is written on our hearts in such a way that, though we may from time to time stray, we can never fully forget. In this treasure hunt, even more than there being no competition, there is a universal teamwork. When any one of us gains an additional insight into the treasure, we all profit from that experience. Humanity as a whole is blessed by the presence of an advancing soul. And the beauty of it is that by our alignment with this cosmic treasure hunt we are able to take part in the blessing of all humanity, no matter how humbly placed we may be. Blavatsky further explains this in The Voice of the Silence:
155. If Sun thou canâ€™st not be, then be the humble planet. Aye, if thou art debarred from flaming like the noon-day Sun upon the snow-capped mount of purity eternal, then choose, O Neophyte, a humbler course.
156. Point out the "Way"—however dimly, and lost among the host—as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness.
As Theosophists we not only have the great gift of a treasure map, but also of being given the privilege of sharing with others the joy to be found in seeking the treasure. By being an evening star for our brother or sister, we discover the greatest treasure of all—that of realizing the unity of all life and forming a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity.