The Treasure of Treasures

by Maxim Hongell

Once upon a time there was a very clever and greedy thief. It was said that he was one of the best thieves in the world. He had stolen treasures from tightly secured castles, he had broken into the most safe treasurechests and he had found ancient treasures from dangerous and lost dungeons. He had a very strong desire to search for more and more challenging treasures. Then one night he came to a village where he went to a local inn. He sat to a table in order to relax but it didn’t take long until his ears captured an interesting discussion from the nearby table. A local man was telling a story about the treasure of treasures that no man had been able to steal. Actually not even to find it. Or at least those who had went in order to find it had never returned. According to the legend the treasure was situated somewhere deep in the mountain valleys in an ancient and haunted temple, guarded by furious spirits. The thief was not afraid of ghosts so he got up and went to the table and said: „I’m the best thief in the world and there is no treasure that I’m not able to find and steal. Please tell me more about this treasure.” But all that the locals could do was to give him a direction leading to a dangerous road through the mountains. 
The next day the thief left and started towards the mountains and found the road. It was clear that this road had not been used for a long time. It had an uninviting entrance with sharp rocks all around and a skeleton of a horse lying on the ground. But the thief continued. During the next several days he had to climb over piles of rocks where the mountain walls had caved in and jump over gaps infinitely deep. Then one day when he was totally exhausted and his food and water were running low, he came across an old sign where it said: „Warning: if you continue from here, you shall never return.” The thief was not only clever but also courageous and he thought to himself that there were many treasures that he had obtained by taking risks and this seemed quite a small one: some old stories about a haunted treasure. Superstition! But there might actually be a treasure. Those fools just never had the guts to come and look. I will show them who is the best thief in the world. 
After travelling for one more day he descended from the mountains to an absolutely amazing valley full of fruit bearing trees, clear water springs there and the most beautiful bird singing that he had ever heard. The place reminded him about some stories that his old grandmother used to tell. They were about a heavenly paradise which was a place where the humans went when they died. But the thief didn’t believe in such childish stories. But he did believe that this might actually be a worthy place for the treasure of treasures. But as he was quite fascinated by the magical atmosphere and the rain of colours and fragrances from the flowers, he decided to have a rest. He picked some fresh fruits and sat down on the shore of a forest stream. Even feeling a hint of thankfulness which was not common to him, he ate the fruit, drank from the stream and decided to have a nap. 
Just as the thief was about to fall asleep a very deep, penetrating and mystical voice said: „So, you have come for the treasure.” And it was not a question, it was a statement. The thief jumped on his feet, grabbed his knife and staff but there was no one around. „Who’s there?”, he asked. „If you lower your weapons, I shall present myself”, answered the voice. There was something so familiar, so soothing and so convincing in that voice that the thief did something he had never done before in his life: he trusted the voice, put down his weapons and replied: „Now I put down my arms. Be a gentleman and present yourself.” Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder and almost jumped out of his pants because he hadn’t heard anyone approaching. He turned around and saw a very big and distinguished looking old man. His wrinkled face shone with a big bright smile and his eyes were pure and shining like the eyes of a small child. „Welcome, you who search for the treasure of the treasures.”, said the old man. The thief was so astonished about the old man that at first he couldn’t say anything but only to stare with his mouth wide open. The old man laughed and said: „You should close your mouth before an uninvited guest flies in there.” The thief gathered himself quickly and asked: „Who are you?” „Who I am is not important but why you are here is important”, replied the old man. As the old man already seemed to know about the treasure, the thief said: „Yes, I am looking for the treasure of treasures. Do you know something about it?” „I might”, said the old man and then added: „So you are searching…” in a very peculiar and low voice like he had found something interesting. „Yes, I search for treasures.”, said the thief. „And steal them.”, added the old man. The thief looked at the old man with surprise. How could he know he was a thief, he had never seen this old man before. „No, you are mistaken. I am a honest man.”, said the thief. „We will see about that. Please, come with me, you must be in a need of a hot bath and a long sleep in a nice bed since you look like you travelled through a dump.”, said the old man and laughed heartily at the thief. 
The thief was overwhelmed by this encounter and decided to follow the old man but with caution. After some time the two men arrived at an opening in the forest. The opening was covered with the greenest grass and the most beautiful flowers the thief had ever seen. Here and there were small ponds with clear water and the scent of flowers was floating everywhere. In the end of the opening was a steep mountain wall and below it a wonderful looking small palace made of white marble. Now the thief became very interested. This looked like a place where old men might keep some old treasures. But as if the old man had heard his thoughts he said to the thief: „I live here alone in a simple way. I have no desire for riches. Please feel yourself at home!” The inside of the palace was also white but there was a multitude of colors because there where flowers growing also inside the palace. From the walls, in the corners and in the center of the hall was a big and amazing looking area full of flowers. After the thief had a bath it was late so the old man suggested that they went to sleep and talked the next day. The thief accepted this proposal thinking that this might be a good opportunity to check if the old man was telling the truth and there really was nothing to steal. So in the middle of the night the thief got up and searched the whole palace but in the end he found nothing to steal. He was a little bit disappointed and decided to sit for a while and to gather his thoughts by the flowers growing in the center of the palace. As he sat down near the flowers he saw that they were even more beautiful than the ones outside. These had all kinds of almost geometrical patterns and amazing colors that he could see even he just had an oil lamp to give him light. And he had the impression as if these flowers had some kind of light of their own shining through the petals. He was totally captured by the beauty of these flowers and he was thinking that maybe he should pick a couple for himself. Suddenly he decided to smell the flowers and the fragrance was overwhelming. It was the sweetest fragrance he had ever encountered. It was like he could smell beauty. The fragrance was so intense that he started to feel dizzy and weakness in his legs. He almost crawled back to his bed totally drunk from this heavenly fragrance. When he got to his bed he fell asleep immediately and slept without seeing any dreams. 
In the morning he woke up and didn’t remember when was the last time he had such a good sleep. „Good morning, young man”, said the old man as he was caressing the flowers in the center. „You know, when you see this kind of beauty and experience it completely, then there is no need to search for any treasures anymore. A flower can be even intoxicating with it’s beauty. But if your interest is to make that experience your own then that beauty will throw you out from that experience”, said the old man with a very mystical voice. But the thief thought to himself: Now he is getting even philosophical. I can’t put up with this kind of nonsense. Maybe I should just leave. But the desire for that treasure had already taken over him so he decided to stay. While eating breakfast the thief asked the old man: „So what do you know about this treasure of treasures?” „What do you want to know?” „Do you know where it is?” „Yes.” „So you have a treasure after all!” „Not exactly, I just happen to know where it is.” „So can you tell me where it is?” „No, not at this moment. But if you do exactly what I tell you to do then I might reveal to you where it is.” Now the thief was absolutely trapped with the thought: so there really was a treasure on which he could get his hands on so he asked from the old man: „Tell me, what is it that you want me to do?” The thief was waiting for something very dangerous and hard to complete but the old man asked: „For who do you care for in this world?” The thief was puzzled. What kind of a question is that? But he also knew that there was only one person who he really cared about and that was his mother. But it had been years since he had met her and he didn’t know if she even lived anymore for she was quite old. „Well, I care for my mother.” „Then go to see her and take care of her.” „What kind of a quest is that? I thought I had to do something heroic!” „Everything is not what it seems”, replied the old man. „Just go and do it!”
The thief left and travelled for many weeks until he reached the house of his mother. When he entered he found his mother laying in the bed and the local doctor was sitting next to her. When she saw her son she started to smile and said: „My dear son, I was praying to God for you to come and visit me since, my dear son, I am dying and I don’t have much more time in this world. It is time for me to pass on to the next life.” At that moment the thief felt something inside him, something he hadn’t felt for years. It was something warm, something beautiful and something as tender as those flowers in the valley. So he told his mother that she didn’t have to worry anymore because her son was now here to take care of her. And he embraced his mother who became overwhelmingly happy. They kept embracing each other until suddenly the thief heard a sigh from his mother’s mouth. She stopped breathing and died very happy in her son’s arms. Next day the thief buried his mother and started back to the old man. Even if he felt sad that he had lost his mother in the same time he was carrying in his being the feelings that had awaken when he met his mother last night. He felt himself to be something similar to a small frozen stream that starts to melt in the spring sun. He felt as if something started to flow in a beautiful way through his being. It was like he had been in a dark room and suddenly someone made a small hole in the wall from where the sun entered the room and flooded darkness with light.
But after travelling for a while the thief returned to his old state. He was full of desire as he was thinking about the treasure. Finally he entered that magical valley and went in the palace where he found the old man adoring the flowers in the center. „So you returned”, said the old man without turning around. The thief was taken by surprise and thought to himself: I must becoming old or something. No one ever hears me coming. But then he continued as if he wasn’t at all amazed about the old man and said: „I did as you told me, now tell me where is the treasure.” „I didn’t tell you to do one thing. I told you to do as I say. Now next go and find someone to help and help that person.”, replied the old man. „What kind of a stupid thing is that to do? Why should I help someone for nothing? Why don’t you want me to do something for you?”, said the thief. „My dear”, said the old man in a father like voice. „If you want me to reveal the secret of the treasure then you must do as I say.” Maybe this old man is just making fun of me thought the thief. Maybe he has no treasure. Why is he making me to do these stupid things that don’t give any valuable results? But he must have that treasure! Why would he have talked about it otherwise? „Fine. I’ll go and look for somebody to help.”, said the thief. „And in this way you will help yourself”, mumbled the old man as he was watering the flowers in the center. But the thief didn’t hear him as he had already rushed out from the palace full of anxiety.
The thief travelled for several days until he saw a family sitting next to the road. There was a man, a woman and a small child in the arms of the woman. And next to them was a broken carriage. The man’s leg was bleeding heavily. „What happened?”, asked the thief. „A wheel broke from our carriage and the horse ran away and the carriage fell and my husband broke his leg.”, said the woman. „Please, help us to the next village to see a doctor. I can not help my husband because I have to take care of our child so can you please carry my husband?” So as this was the opportunity the thief was looking for, he decided to help. But at that moment the thief felt something strange he had never felt before. He felt that same warm feeling that he did while visiting his mother but this time it had a nuance of understanding. Somehow he could see himself as those human beings in that same situation so an urge to help them was awaken inside of him. The thief was puzzled for he never wanted to help anyone before. But somehow he could understand how these people felt sitting there in despair. This was strange also for the reason that usually he was accustomed to only think about himself. But now he was abandoning himself because these people needed help. He was abandoning himself in front of something that wanted to help these people through him. And again something started to flow through his being. Suddenly he felt quite strong and big and somehow fatherly as if he was helping his children with some little troubles. So he lifted the man on his back and the whole party started towards the village. 
After getting the husband to a doctor the thief started the journey back and he was feeling happy that he had helped those poor human beings. But on the way the thoughts and desire for the treasure returned and they took over him. As he entered the palace he found the old man sitting in the middle of the flowers in the center. His eyes were closed and he looked absolutely blissful. But then he opened his eyes and made a small hand gesture for the thief to come closer. „I did as you told me to do.”, said the thief. „Good, I can see that”, said the old man. „But how do you see such a thing”, asked the thief. „Well, your image of a thief is starting to crumble!”, said the old man and then he laughed warmly at the thief. But the thief was not amused. He really wanted the treasure so he said: „Will you tell me now where the treasure is or what do you want?” „Well, next I want you to tell me, who do you hate the most in this world?” „Well that’s clear”, said the thief. „When I was much younger I was supposed to be married to a girl in our village. But then there moved another boy. Soon that girl who I was supposed to marry fell in love with that boy and ran away with him. No one else has ever insulted me in such a way. I hate them both from the bottom of my heart.” „So now I want you to find them and tell them that you are happy for them that they are together.”, said the old man. „What??!!”, shouted the thief. „There is no way I’m doing something like that. They would think I’m a fool and a looser.” „Well, then there will be no more talking about that treasure…”, said the old man. But at this point the treasure had almost become an obsession for the thief so he agreed to fulfill this mission. He was so restless that he almost ran out of the palace without having time to hear as the old man said in a soft voice: „The heart cannot hate.” 
After travelling for several weeks in search for that girl and boy from his village he finally found them living peacefully on a little isolated farm. When the girl who had now become a beautiful woman saw the man to whom she was supposed to be married she became terrified because she knew that he hated them very much. So she shouted for her husband to come to help. And her husband rushed out from the building with a sword in his hand and shouted: „Don’t you go near her or I will send you to hell!” But for their absolutely amazing surprise the thief said to them in friendly voice: „I am happy that you are together and I wish you a graceful life for the rest of your years.” At that moment the thief felt again that warm and soft feeling inside of him but this time he also felt as if he would had thrown away a useless big stone which he had carried with him for ages. He felt like something started to flow through his being and it was like a powerful river that takes out whatever might cross it’s path. Somehow he felt much more lighter. And at that moment he understood that the woman and man had not ran away to hurt him. They had ran away because they loved each other and it was the only way how they could remain together. What was even more surprising was that he could feel the love that the woman and man had for each other. He felt how they were meant for each other in this life and all the hate that he had for them had disappeared. Without saying another word the thief turned his back to the couple and started the return journey. 
On the way back to the magical valley the thief started to feel that same feeling of warmness and tenderness inside of him in an even more intense way. That feeling appeared when he came across a beautiful view or when he saw a beggar and gave some money and he really was overwhelmed. What is this, he thought to himself. I must be going crazy. I’m helping people and admiring flowers… Nevertheless I am also feeling very good. So he continued the journey accompanied by that warm feeling that flooded his being. 
But when he returned to the palace, he suddenly remembered the treasure and went to a state of anticipation again. He went to the old man who was lying on his back in the middle of the flowers in the center and he was smiling like in a state of wonder. But the thief was experiencing a tormenting state of lack of patience and he was waiting for the old man to give him another task. He was so obsessed about the treasure that he would have even cut off his arm to have the treasure. „So you have returned but I see that you are not ready to know the secrets of the treasure.”, said the old man. „Next I want you to wear this and go to the nearest village and stay there for two weeks but you should not get angry and you should remain calm at all costs.” „Well that’s easy, I have the nerves of steel.”, replied the thief and asked: „So what do you want me to wear?” The thief’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets as the old man gave him a dress. It was a very beautiful red colored women’s dress. The thief was stunned. „You must be crazy! I’m not going out there wearing a women’s dress. What kind of stupidity is this?”, shouted the thief at the old man. But the old man replied in a very peaceful manner: „Well, if you don’t want to know about the treasure…” „Yes, yes, yes, I’ll do it!”, replied the thief in a surrendering tone. He put on the dress and was about to leave but just before he reached the front door the old man shouted: „Hey, I forgot to give you something. Please wear this on your head.” And by saying this the old man threw a fools hat to the hands of the thief who was almost in a boiling point. „You see, it has even lovely little jingles on it that make a beautiful sound so that everyone will notice you.”, said the old man and laughed. But the thief said: „I hope that you are happy. Now everyone will think that I have problems with my mind or something.” As the thief walked out of the palace he slammed the door behind him and couldn’t hear as the old man said: „The problem is what you think of yourself.”
The thief put on the fools hat and left for the village. The first days there were probably one of the most embarrassing and terrible that he had ever experienced in his life. As he entered the village many people gathered around him and started mocking him. And more people kept on gathering to see this crazy man in a woman’s dress wearing a fools hat. He had never experienced such humiliation. He really wanted to make these people to shut up. He really wanted to break some bones. But he had to do as the old man said because the crave for the treasure was even stronger than any humiliation. Even when some people were throwing rotten vegetables at him, he kept on keeping his calm and said nothing to the villagers. Then one day in the middle of a daily humiliation session he suddenly noticed something. He became aware that he was angry even he was acting calm. And at that moment it struck him like a lightning from a clear blue sky: why am I going through these stupid feelings… There is no point in being angry because anyway I will not do anything about that mocking. Actually these people and my situation have nothing to do with each other. They don’t know who I am or my situation. They just see these clothes and think that I’m insane or something but in reality they know nothing about me. And after thinking this the thief suddenly felt an overwhelming peace descending into him. He felt such serenity, such peacefulness of which he had never known anything about before. He felt like it was radiating through him and he was filled from head to toe by that powerful feeling of peace. He felt like this river of peace that was flowing through him had taken him on it’s warm and soft arms and he was floating on waves of  wonder. His mind felt so clear, so silent. It was like an end of the suffering which he had caused to himself by being angry. And even though he still had to stay for several days in the village while the mockery continued, he kept on feeling that peace, that humble serenity which had entered him. He felt like nothing could ever take that away from him. 
As he returned to the valley the old man was admiring the flowers in the center and greeted him by saying: „If you wanted to bring me some vegetables, you should had at least bought some fresh ones” and then laughed in a heartful way. But the thief felt like he was being torn apart as the crave for the treasure returned. There was peace in him and that part in him didn’t have any desire for a treasure. It was enough just to be. But the other part of him was still seeking for the treasure of treasures. And as if the old man had heard his thoughts he said in a soft and mystical voice: „My son, now I will give you one more task after which you might be ready to hear all about the treasure of treasures. But you must know that this might be the hardest task of them all. You must go and for one month you shall only speak the truth to other human beings.” Well that’s easy, thought the thief to himself as he was again feeling some greediness for the treasure. I’ll just wonder on the hills for one month and there I won’t see anyone and then I’ll come back here. „It’s a deal”, said the thief and went. „No, it’s a gift”, said the old man after the thief was gone. 
For a week the thief wondered in the hills but then one night when he was sleeping he was awaken by a kick in his foot. He got up quickly and saw a bunch of policemen around him. „We are looking for a thief. We have been looking for him a long time already. He is said to be the best thief in the world. He is the one who was stealing the king’s crown while he was sleeping and the king really wants it back. We have heard from the village nearby that somebody recognized him even he tried to wear a disguise.” „Yes, a women’s dress”, said another police man and they all laughed. „Have you seen him?”, asked the policeman.  How can this be possible, thought the thief to himself. Policemen? Here? In the hills? This must be the worst luck I’ve had so far. But the thief wanted to have the treasure so much that he followed the old man’s advice and said: „Yes I’ve seen him.” „Good, do you know where he is?” „Yes.” „Where?” „Right here.” „What, are you joking?” „No, I am not.” „So you are saying that you are the best thief in the world.” „Well I can not know it for a certainty but that’s what people keep on saying about me.” „I think you are just a lonesome man who wants some attention. The best thief in the world would not give himself up like this. Why should we believe you?” „Because I can prove it?” „How?” „By giving back the kings crown.” And so the whole party went to a place where the thief had hidden the crown. After this the thief was taken to jail. To the amazement of the interrogators they didn’t even have to torture him since he was quite abundantly admitting everything he was accused of. The next day he was taken to court and was sent to prison for the rest of his life. For him an escape from prison was not a big deal but he decided to stay there until the end of the period of speaking only the truth. 
Then one night the thief saw a dream. In the dream the old man appeared to him and said: „My son, you have passed many difficult tests. Soon you shall know the treasure of treasures. And after that the old man disappeared. Suddenly the thief was taken back in time and he relived again in his dreams all the situations he had encountered while doing the tasks given by the old man. Again he experienced the care he gave to his mother, how he felt the compassion for that family he had helped, how he forgave that woman and her husband, how he entered the blissful peace while being mocked in that village and how it was now the truth which was setting him free. Setting him free from the desire for more treasures even though at the first glance it looked like it was the truth that had imprisoned him. But in reality it was the lies that he had told to himself about himself that were imprisoning him. Imprisoning him to a jail of thoughts that controlled what he wanted and who he should be. But he was not those thoughts. He was something… Something he could not define. Something beyond his thoughts, beyond his emotions… And then suddenly he woke up as the guard yelled that it was morning. But he was feeling different. He could remember all about his dream. And he felt like something from that dream was continuing. Actually he was feeling very different. Actually he had never felt like this before. It was as if all those memories from the dream had become alive inside of him and he was experiencing all those beautiful feelings in the same time. It was as if he was experiencing a synthesis of all those elevated states that his memories had awaken. He was experiencing something that he could only call love and he had never been so happy in his life. Before he had thought that it was possible to be happy only if you had a lot of wealth in different forms. But he saw that actually that was not happiness. True happiness came from inside and this time the true happiness was flowing through his being in such a powerful way that he felt himself bathing in bright white light. Yes, this is love, true love, he thought to himself. And it was so amazing since he was not loving anybody or anything particularly, it was just pure love. But one thing was missing and about this he was very surprised. He was not thinking about the treasure anymore. He didn’t feel the burning desire anymore. As if by magic he had lost the interest in the treasure even though before it was the only thing he could think about. But he also felt that something was still unfinished. He had to get back to the old man because he might be worried if the thief didn’t return. 
So as the thief still had all his skills left, he made a very good plan and after two days he escaped from the jail and returned to the old man. As he entered the palace the old man was standing in the middle of the flowers in the center with his hands raised like he was rejoicing and he was singing some joyful song. Then he turned around and said: „So, I see you have returned. Do you want to know about the treasure?” But the thief replied: „I have to admit you something. Actually I don’t want that treasure anymore. I feel like I have always searched for more and more treasures but suddenly I don’t want to do that anymore. You know, I had a dream…” „I know”, interrupted the old man and then continued: „I see that you have already found the treasure.” „What?”, said the thief totally puzzled. „Yes, you have found it!”, and then the old man’s voice changed. He started to talk in a voice that was so deep, so pure, so loving and so godly that the rest of the world went silent as he started to speak. „In every human being created as the image and likeness of God there is a secret treasure chest. Many are those who never even suspect it’s existence for it is hidden from those with a predominance of grossness. But it is a living reality for the elevated and pure ones. It is the invisible chest in your chest where the love of God dwells when you dwell in the love of God. Many are those who search for their whole lives never knowing what they truly are searching for and searching only from the outside without never realizing that they should had made the search inside of themselves.” And after saying this the old man touched the chest of the thief who was overwhelmed by a flood of love that was pouring into him through the old man. He felt an overwhelming communion that took him out of his body into a paradise of pure love and at that moment he knew it for a certainty, this was a communion with God. He had never been interested in God and he had no clue what is God. But he knew it in his heart, right now he was experiencing God.

As he was bathing in an overwhelming stream of bright white light and love that was flowing through his and the old man’s beings he could hear the old man continue: „This treasure chest doesn’t need a lock for it can not be opened or closed. It is. And it doesn’t need to be hidden for it is hidden from the eyes of a thief who couldn’t recognize it even if it was laid on his hands. And even if a thief would get his hands on this treasure chest, he would notice that there is absolutely nothing he could steal even while it’s full of treasures. Full of treasures that make the thief a honest man. And these are the treasures, the jewels, the wealth of Heavens. These are love, compassion, truthfulness, forgiveness, understanding, wisdom, caring and numerous other beauties of beatitudes. And this is the wealth that a man of God collects into his secret treasure chest. But unlike the worldly treasures of which even the diamonds are not forever, the treasures of heavens are eternal. And when you collect these heavenly treasures it doesn’t mean that when you have more then someone else has less. It is so that when you have more then everybody has more because it is impossible to have these treasures without sharing them with the rest of the world. If you give away the treasures from the worldly treasure chest it will be empty. But the secret treasure chest is a magical one: when you give and share the heavenly treasures, the secret treasure chest never becomes empty but it is constantly filled by God. And the more and faster you can give and share your treasures, the more the secret treasure chest will grow and contain even more of the heavenly treasures. You don’t have to wait until you are dead, this is your paradise of Heaven on earth.” After hearing this the thief knew that what he was before was now dead and he said to the old man: „I feel that what was me is not anymore. I feel like I am born again.” „Yes, my dear son, you are born again to the godly life. And your whole life is still ahead. Your mission is to fill your secret treasure chest constantly and then to give away your treasures.” 
After this the man knew exactly what was the necessity for him to do so he thanked the old man from the bottom of his heart and left and started his journey towards the source of love. He became a very famous benefactor known widely for his goodwill and heartfulness as he helped those in need of help with the riches that he had stolen in his previous life. But as he had changed so much, nobody recognized that he had been the best thief in the world. And all that was left was a story in a small village of the best thief in the world who never returned after going to search for the treasure of treasures.

June 4, 2014

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