The Golden Buddha

For the past 10 years I have been travelling extensively to the Far East. At the beginning, when everything was new and different to me, I loved visiting temples of all kinds, enjoying their colorfulness, the strong scents and the feeling of holiness. During the years the magic had somewhat faded and today I tend to skip visiting temples or make the visits short. Nevertheless, when I came across this story about the ‘Golden Buddha’, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the story and to its moral. The ‘Giant Golden Buddha’ statue in Bangkok is made of solid gold, weighs 2.5 tones and is valued at 170 million US Dollars. Here is the story and the story teller’s moral:

Back in 1957 a group of monks from a monastery had to relocate a clay Buddha from their temple to a new location in order to make room for the development of a highway through Bangkok. When the crane began to lift the giant idol, the weight of it was so tremendous that it began to crack. What’s more, rain began to fall. The head monk, who was concerned about damage to the sacred Buddha, decided to lower the statue back to the ground and cover it with a large canvas tarp to protect it from the rain.

Later that evening the head monk went to check on the Buddha. He shined his flashlight under the tarp to see if the Buddha was staying dry and he noticed that a little gleam was shining back from the crack. He wondered if there might be something underneath the clay. He went to fetch a chisel and hammer and began to chip away at the clay. The little gleam grew brighter and bigger. Many hours of labor went before the monk stood face to face with the extraordinary solid-gold Buddha.

Historians believe that several hundred years before the head monk’s discovery, the Burmese army was about to invade Thailand (then called Siam). The Siamese monks, realizing that their country would soon be attacked, covered their precious golden Buddha with an outer covering of clay in order to keep their treasure from being looted by the Burmese. Unfortunately, it appears that the Burmese slaughtered all the Siamese monks, and the well kept secret of the golden Buddha remained intact until the fateful day in 1957.

As we flew back home, writes the teller (jack Canfield), I began to think to myself:

“We are all like the clay Buddha covered with a shell of hardness created out of fear, and yet underneath each of us is a ‘golden Buddha’, a ‘golden essence’. Somewhere along the way, between the ages of 2 and 9, we begin to cover up our ‘golden essence’, our natural self. Much like the monk with the hammer and the chisel, our task now is to discover our true essence once again.”

 (From”Chicken Soup for the Soul”, by Jack Canfield & Mark Hansen, Copyright c 1993.)

 I’m not an expert of how and when people’s ways of behavior had been developed, but I tend to agree that many of our ways of behavior are driven by decision that we took somewhere in our childhood or our adolescence. In our adult life it is difficult for us to identify which way of behavior is the result of a decision made once by a child.

In any case, if you don’t find yourself attached to the moral, just enjoy the interesting historical aspect.


Fireworks (26)
Thursday, March 26, 2009

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