The Treasure That Unites the Material and the Spiritual

At my feet, unopened, lies a treasure chest. But I don’t see it. I’m scanning the horizon, looking for treasure.

Every so often, my foot knocks against it, or it starts to hum, or I happen to glance down for no reason. I see the chest, open it, and then I remember.

This is how my spiritual life progresses, through a continual sequence of forgetting and remembering.

I fall asleep, losing touch with my expansive, vibrant connection to life. I slip into a narrow box where I only have the wherewithal to contend with a lesser span of details and desires. My ego self takes over and does what it does so well:  numbing pain and chasing shiny objects.

Then something happens, and I remember the treasure chest.

I lift the lid and touch the larger version of myself that is my true nature. A third dimension balloons from the flattened world of my ego. My vision expands. I feel my breath. My consciousness becomes grounded and spacious at the same time. A lightness enters my body.

I feel connected again to life. I’m back home. 

This is my life, swaying back and forth between forgetting and remembering. Sometimes it seems as if I have two lives weaving back and forth, up and down, one material and one spiritual. I used to believe I needed to avoid one and stay in the other. 

But that is not the spiritual journey. In recent years, I’ve come to see there is only one life that holds it all. 

All the experiences of life – wonders, joys, pains, fears, beliefs, actions, irritations – are connected and work together. The work of the higher self and the ego self is not a battle between right and wrong. It’s more like a partnership, with each having an essential role to take us where we’re going.

Our spiritual capacities are not here to exaggerate the wonder and joy and escape the fear and pain of our material existence. Life is continually surfacing the things we need to face, process and integrate for our souls to evolve. Our expanded spiritual capacities are both the tools and the products of this work.

Yes, we want more peace and ease in our lives, and we hope a spiritual path can help us achieve that. And yes, it will produce more peace and ease over time, but not in every instance along the way. We gain nothing if we use spirituality to maintain a false peace while avoiding tough choices or denying accountability for our actions. 

I need to engage all the experiences of life – the material, the spiritual, the ego, the higher self, the shiny objects, the spaciousness, the small span of daily details, the expanded connection to life – as essential parts of doing the work.

Spiritual work is easier when life’s events are pleasing or transcendent. I can open up to my higher self more readily, and I feel my soul advancing. The work is more challenging when events are awkward, uncomfortable or painful. My ego self rushes in to protect me. It closes down my vision, finds others to blame, and looks for the escape of easy addictions.

This is where the value of the treasure chest makes herself apparent. Because the treasure is awareness.

Awareness is big enough to hold it all. 

Falling back into the arms of awareness, again and again and again, cultivates my spiritual capacities. Each time I avoid grasping for the pleasant or transcendent and stop trying to escape the awkward or painful, I am doing the work. Being present each time gives awareness another chance to change me.

How wonderous a treasure is that?

Photo by Jouwen Wang on Unsplash

5 Replies to “The Treasure That Unites the Material and the Spiritual”

  1. Thank you, Steve!! That was so eloquently and thoughtfully written!! It make’s clear my experience and guides me to accept the sway. I am so grateful for your clarity. 🙏🏼 Namaste

  2. Steve,

    I’ve been a follower of your Practical Wisdom posts for a while now. So much of what you write about describes so clearly the Spiritual Path I’ve been on for so many years.

    We all have gifts to bring to the World. I honestly believe you are using your gift of imparting spiritual wisdom to those of us on this Journey together.

    Thanks Steve, for your guidance and support. I’ll continue to be inspired by your insights.


  3. Gloria and Darrell, thank you for your kind words. This post seemed to have a strong, passionate energy. I never know how my writing will be recieved, so your feedback is great.

  4. I completely resonate with your experience of swaying back and forth between forgetting and remembering. It can be so easy to get caught up in the material world and forget the treasure chest at our feet. But I also appreciate your reminder that all experiences – good or bad – are essential parts of our spiritual journey. Becoming aware and present in each moment can help cultivate our spiritual capacities and ultimately lead to more peace and ease in our lives. Thanks Steve!

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