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The Golden Buddha

(Featured in Winter 2015 “Hawaii’s Inspiration” Magazine. Read the entire issue.)

I first heard the story of the Golden Buddha from the Joseph Campbell inspired film “Finding Joe”. It’s a story I have since recounted many times, both for myself and for my clients, as it provides a powerful and symbolic analogy of personal concealment and subsequent discovery.

Many centuries ago, there stood the most amazing giant Golden Buddha. The shrine was the cherished responsibility of a group of dedicated monks. When the monks received word of an impending invasion from a neighboring army, they were certain their beloved possession would be pillaged. To protect their shrine, the monks camouflaged the Golden Buddha by covering it with a foot of clay; masquerading the Buddha’s exceptionality and uniqueness. The ruse worked. The nondescript statue of clay and modest details received minimal attention and was not perceived as having any significance. Sadly, the occupation of the neighboring army continued for many years and included the demise of the monks and their secret cover-up.

Many years passed and the country was reclaimed, allowing monks to return to the temple. No one, including the new generation of monks, knew of the very special Buddha statue they had in their possession and the modest clay shire was relocated multiple times. The Golden Buddha remained covered in clay; an unremarkable and characterless figure that was often unwanted due to its massiveness and commonplace composition. Then, in the 1950’s, the Buddha was to be relocated once again. This time, in the process of trying to move the massive figure, the crane’s rigging broke, dropping the Buddha and compromising the clay’s shielding layer…the unfortunate accident had loosened the clay shell. That night, before the Buddha could be safely moved again, a major rain storm occurred. One of the monks responsible for the care of the Buddha went to check on the statue in the mist of the night storm and noticed a tiny glimmer coming from beneath the area that had been damaged in the crane accident. He called to the other monks and they began to hammer and chisel at the clay to reveal the most beautiful and precious Golden Buddha. What was uncovered that night is known today as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon, the world’s largest solid gold statue.

I am of the school that we are born pure and uninhibited; we all come into this world a Golden Buddha. As time passes, we too pile on layers of muck concealing our true self. Whether it be a layer of protection from social pressures, restraints created from our upbringing or family expectations, or fears of denunciation for self-expression; it’s a

cover-up we add to conform, to fit in, to be an acceptable participant of the status quo. As time passes, we are so masked and concealed with layers we forget we are Golden. Often, something happens in our lives….a tragedy, a misfortune….or is it? An event occurs that cracks us open to reveal something hidden within… something so precious that we forgot ever existed.

What if I reminded you that YOU are a Golden Buddha….that there is treasure within you? Would you keep yourself covered in muck? Would you wait for an event to break you and break you open? Or would you start a proactive, consistent process now? The statue had to wait to be revealed, but we don’t have to! You choose. Reveal your Golden Buddha….by water or through the flames….probably a bit of both. Explore, challenge, excavate….reveal.

YOU are Golden…


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