In the 1950s a group of monks in Thailand, were tasked with moving a giant clay statue of Buddha. The statue had been left out in the open for many years and had attracted little attention, because it was considered to be of minor importance. It was shifted around on several occasions until eventually a building was constructed to house it at the Wat Traimit temple.
Whilst the statue was being moved to this new location, an attempt was made to lift the statue from its pedestal. The ropes snapped and the statue fell hard onto the ground. One of the monks inspected the crack that had appeared and he became aware of a golden glow. He started chipping away at the clay and before long the clay exterior had been removed revealing a solid gold Buddha, three metres high and weighing five and a half tonnes.
The story goes that some two hundred years earlier, the Golden Buddha had been camouflaged with clay by previous occupants of the monastery to protect it from the invading Burmese army. The monks had used a thick layer of clay known as stucco, which was painted and inlaid with bits of coloured glass. It was enough to make the statue look precious, but not valuable. Unfortunately, all the inhabitants of the monastery were wiped out in the invasion, so there was no-one left who knew the secret.
Not surprisingly, it is now claimed that the Golden Buddha encourages us to rise above overwhelming, difficult circumstances. It is a remarkable story, which has become a metaphor to help us understand who we truly are. Each one of us is born as pure gold, with innate capacities such as happiness, wisdom, resilience, well-being and love. As we interact with the world we lose sight of who we truly are – our thinking becomes contaminated and we forget we have these innate capacities. Our solid gold centre gets covered in layers and layers of clay and gaudy coloured glass. We begin to think our happiness is ‘out there’ and that we have to search for it high and low; we are conditioned to think the search is long and arduous. And the joke is on us, because if we chip away at the surface, if we peel away the gaudy exterior, the treasure we are seeking has been there all the time!
Photo credit: pxfuel