Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul
In the fall of 1988 my
wife Georgia and I were invited to give a presentation of self-esteem and peak
performance at a conference in Hong Kong. Since we had never been to the Far
East before, we decided to extend our trip and visit Thailand.
When we arrived in
Bangkok, we decided to take a tour of the city's most famous Buddhist temples.
Along with our interpreter and driver, Georgia and I visited numerous Buddhist
temples that day, but after a while they all began to blur in our memories.
However, there was one
temple that left an indelible impression in our hearts and minds. It is called
the Temple of the Golden Buddha. The temple itself is very small, probably no
larger than thirty feet by thirty feet. But as we entered, we were stunned by
the presence of a ten-and-a- half-foot tall, solid-gold Buddha. It weighs over
two-and-a- half tons and is valued at approximately one hundred and ninety-six
million dollars! It was quite an awesome sight - the kindly gentle, yet imposing
solid-gold Buddha smiling down at us.
As we immersed ourselves
in the normal sightseeing tasks(taking pictures while oohing and ahhing over the
statue), I walked over to a glass case that contained a large piece of clay
about eight inches thick and twelve inches wide. Next to the glass case was a
typewritten page describing the history of this magnificent piece of art.
Back in 1957 a group of
monks from a monastery had to relocate a clay Buddha from their temple to a new
location. The monastery was to be relocated 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. As the light reached the crack, he noticed
a little gleam shining back and thought it strange. As he took a closer look at
this gleam of light, he wondered if there might be something underneath the
clay. He went to fetch a chisel and hammer from the monastery and began to chip
away at the clay. As he knocked off shards of clay, the little gleam grew
brighter and bigger. Many hours of labor went by 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 that fateful day in 1957.
As we flew home on
Cathay Pacific Airlines 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 Christ' or a 'golden
essence,' which is our real self. Somewhere along the way, between the ages of
two and nine, 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."