Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Golden Buddha

In 1957, a group of Thai monks were informed that due to major construction of a new port and highway, their shrine was to be relocated. The shrine in question was a huge clay Buddha.

Careful arrangements were made and the day of the shrine moving arrived. The shrine, located under a roof to keep it safe from the elements, was prepared for its journey. A crane was brought in and began lifting the clay Buddha, but as it rose off of its resting place, it began to crack. It seemed to be far heavier than all the engineers had estimated.

The monk supervising the movement of the Buddha frantically called to the crane operator telling him to set the Buddha down. As the monks and the engineers examined the Buddha, they found several large cracks and so to ensure safe movement of the Buddha, a larger crane would be needed, which would arrive the next day. The Buddha was left where it was placed and was to spend the night in its current location.

With a storm brewing, the monks covered the Buddha with a waterproof tarpaulin on poles to keep it dry overnight and all seemed to be well. During the night, the head monk awoke and decided to check on the Buddha. With a flashlight, the monk carefully checked the condition of the Buddha. As he walked around the huge clay figure shining his light on the cracks, something caught his eye. He peered into the crack and what he saw he did not understand, so he needed to see more.

The monk returned to his quarters, found a chisel and a hammer and returned to the Buddha. He began carefully chipping at the clay around the crack. As the crack widened, he could not believe his eyes. He ran to wake the other monks and instructed each of them to bring a hammer and chisel to the place where the Buddha sat.

By lantern light the monks carefully chipped all the clay from the Buddha. After hours of chiselling, the monks stepped back and stared in awe at the sight before them. There, in front of the monks, stood a solid gold Buddha.

When the moving crew arrived later that morning to complete the job of moving the Buddha to its new location, there was much confusion and excitement. Where had the clay Buddha gone? From where had the Golden Buddha come? The monks explained. Historians were called and research was begun to discover the origin of the Golden Buddha.

After much research, the pieces of the story were put together. The Golden Buddha was the cherished responsibility of a group of monks several centuries earlier. These monks received word that the Burmese army was headed their way and they were concerned that the invading army would loot the shrine for its Golden Buddha. So, the monks covered their Buddha with 8 to 12 inches of clay and when they were finished the Golden Buddha appeared to be made of clay.
The monks felt sure that the army would have no interest in a clay Buddha, and they were right. However, the Burmese army killed all of the monks before they moved on and The Golden Buddha was lost in history until 1957.

***

We should remember that there is a Golden Buddha inside each of us. It is hidden away under layers of clay that slowly forms throughout our lives. When we are born, we start life as a Golden Buddha, and this story reminds us that with the right tools, the Golden Buddha within each of us can be revealed in its full glory once again.

Life events and experiences may shroud us in clay, but when we have Faith, courage and self-belief we can break through the clay and allow our true natures to be revealed.

So, much like the monk with his hammer and chisel, it is our task to discover our true essence and to shine.

***

I thank Susanne for reminding me of this story. I have been to the Golden Buddha, and sat in awe in the presence of this shining being. As I prepare now for a major step on my own personal journey in life, I have grabbed a sledgehammer and begun to break through the many layers of clay to the gold that lies beneath...