Seeking inner peace is like looking for a lost treasure. It’s not just any lost treasure, it is your treasure. You lost it. Although it is remarkable that we could ever lose such a treasure, we have. Not only have we lost this treasure, we have forgotten that we ever had it in the first place. That is why we can go about our lives not looking for this treasure. We don’t know we ever had it. We don’t even know it exists. It exists, we had it, and we lost it. Because of that loss we suffer.
We don’t imagine that we are suffering because we have lost the treasure. We imagine we suffer for 1,000 other reasons. If we knew that we had lost our treasure, we wouldn’t worry so much about those 1,000 reasons, we would just look for the lost treasure. If we lose our wallet, keys, phone, tv remote control, or ten dollars, we will look for those things. We will recognize that we are suffering from their loss and we will look for them with a single minded purpose until we find them. We will suffer while we seek for them, knowing that they must be somewhere nearby and we will look everywhere we can think of until we find them. When we find what we are looking for, our suffering stops and we feel joy and relief. What was lost is found.
When our general experience of suffering becomes too difficult, we begin looking for our lost treasure. We search far and wide in therapy, in friends, in activities, in philosophies, in intoxicants, in possessions. We look in all these places, but the treasure is not in these things. It is in us. It is us. We just don’t know that it is there. In order to find this treasure, we have to look in ourselves. We have to look at ourselves. We have to imagine that there is such a treasure and that it is sitting right there in plain sight, waiting for us to see it. Our very suffering, which loss of this treasure inspires, is pointing the way to the treasure, we just have to follow the signs.
As we look deeper and deeper into ourselves, as we look at our joy and at our suffering, we begin to suspect that the treasure that we are looking for actually exists. Then our search may take on more urgency. The search itself will involve suffering. All that searching, seeking and grasping for the treasure puts the treasure just beyond our reach. Finally, when we have exhausted ourselves in our search, we will drop everything and just be who and what we are. At that point, we will see into our essence and that essence will astound us. Upon finding that treasure we will see that we never lost it. We will understand that we are inseparable from it, and we will feel deep inner peace. Hopefully, we would never lose such a treasure again, but we might. Such is our nature.