1930 Bangkok – A clay statue of Buddha residing in a pagoda slated for remodeling found itself without a home. Measuring 10 feet tall and very heavy, workers found it almost impossible to move the statue. It could no longer remain where it had resided for as long as anyone could remember and finding a new home was proving difficult. The statue was of little value and unattractive, not worthy of a place of honor in the finest temples and so it was determined that it would be moved to a warehouse where it resided for the next 25 years.
1955 Bangkok – A new larger building was now under construction and though the cumbersome statue of clay was of little value, its destruction was not an option, it was determined it would be moved to the new building. On the day of the move, the sheer weight of the statue was underestimated, causing a cable on the crane to snap with the statue tumbling to the ground. Fearing retribution; it is an ominous sign to drop a statue of a revered holy figure, the workmen ran in fear from the Buddha now resting in the open with cracks tracing its exterior.
To further fuel the fears of the workers, that evening brought torrential rain, as the thunder and lightning cracked around them, the Buddhist priests, now in possession of the statue, attempted to cover the clay Buddha. Proving a fruitless endeavor, they finally gave up and retreated to the safety of the monastery, leaving the statue exposed to the elements.
One of the younger monks concerned about the damage occurring to the clay Buddha decided to brave the elements and again check on the statue, this time taking a flashlight with him as he ventured into the darkness. As he approached the Buddha, the light from the flashlight appeared to reveal flashes of brightness among the damaged areas of the statue, however with the rain and wind, he could not make out what was the source of the light reflecting in the darkness.
Upon rising the next morning, he and the other monks curious to see what the younger monk had reported the prior night, went to view the Buddha. As they began to chip away at the areas of clay that had cracked, they realized the entire statue was constructed of gold, five tons of gold.
1755 – The Buddhist monks, knowing the monastery would be besieged by the Burmese army, chose to cover the solid gold statue with clay to protect it from damage or theft. With all the monks losing their lives in the brutal assault, there was no one left to tell the Buddha’s secret.
The Golden Buddha once believed to be of no value is now one of the most revered and valuable artifacts in the world.
Aren’t we each a golden treasure covered by layers of clay? Is there not value within each of us no matter our position or power, whether we were born a king or pauper, whether life has graced us with riches or given us richness of life?
There is value in everyone, even if it is not visible to the eye. The homeless man on the corner begging for food or the teenager who wanders the streets alone because home is really not a place of safety, the elderly woman who lives alone down the street or the injured soldier returning home, they are all covered in clay. Because we don’t see the gold, we forget and they are somehow perceived as less valuable, but there is gold under each and every one.
What treasure lies beneath the facade of your exterior? How deep are your layers of clay; those you have allowed to accumulate? Were the layers added to keep you safe from harm or to disguise the brightness trying to shine from within, to hide your true value?
Marianne Williamson wrote “… it is our light, not our darkness that frightens us”. By acknowledging our value and affirming our worth, we can no longer remain the Buddha hidden away covered in clay. Conceding that gold lies within us allows us to claim our place in the world. With claiming that place comes a responsibility to share your gift of brightness with others.
You see, by working hard to remove the clay on our own exterior, we allow our brightness to shine and as we shine brightly, we liberate others to do the same. By being bright of spirit, we allow our light to illuminate the cracks that have formed over time in the exterior of others. We need to let them know we see gold peeking through those cracks even if they don’t know it is there. We need to tell them they are valuable in a language everyone understands, that which is spoken from the heart.
The world needs brightness it needs people who understand that under the ugly clay exterior of others and even themselves, there is great beauty and value. Become captured by the idea that a kind word or act can be the chisel that will allow someone to make the first dent in the clay that encases them.
The valuable possessions we all seek are not “out there” but found inside each of us under the layers of clay. Love, kindness and gratitude are the gifts we are given, they are the light that shines brightly into the darkest crevices of another, illuminating the beauty and value hidden within every one of us. Together we can illuminate the world and reveal the secrets too long held under the layers of clay .