Sometime in the 14th-century countryside of Siam, a small group of Buddhist monks lived, worked, and prayed. One of their most important duties was maintaining a large, solid gold statue of Buddha that had been built many years before.
Learning that the nearby Burmese army was about to invade the area and knowing that the Burmese armies melted down all gold seized from their enemies, the monks determined to protect their only real asset. They covered the statue with mud and clay —layer upon layer — until no bit of gold could be seen.
The army did invade, found no treasure within this humble group, but slaughtered all of the monks anyway. The secret of the camouflage died with them.
Siam became Thailand. Thailand grew, cities expanded, and this large statue interfered with infrastructure growth. In the mid-1950’s, it was decided to move the statue to a new, more central location, so more visitors could appreciate it.
A construction crew was hired, and a team of archeologists were invited to watch events unfold. However, as the crane strained to lift the statue a crack began to appear at the base. Concerned about causing further damage, all work ceased immediately until larger, heavier equipment could be obtained. Rain was predicted for that night, so the construction crew covered the statue with tarp and settled in to wait until the new equipment arrived.
A heavy downpour in the middle of the night woke the head of the archaeology department. Unable to sleep, he took his flashlight to inspect the statue and ensure the tarp was enough protection. As he shone his light toward the base of the sculpture, the beam was reflected back toward him! After closer inspection, he woke the rest of his team who chipped away at the clay to reveal the gold underneath. The Golden Buddha had remained solid and intact. No time or effort had been able to harm it. Simple faith had saved it.
Why tell this story now? What does it mean for us at this time of introspection and self-assessment?
I believe we are all born golden, pink, and perfect. Yet, over time, many of us hear teasing and bullying. Splat! A lump of clay hits us. We might experience rejection or abandonment. Plunk! A handful of mud lands on us. Unkind words, jealous remarks, indifference, cruel sarcasm, sometimes downright abuse can bury us within mud and clay, hiding our true, shining selves.
At this time of year, as we each do our own self-evaluation, let’s take the time to separate our essential goodness from the endless loop of self-criticism that often runs through our brains. Try to remember the origin of those self-deprecating untruths: You’re not good enough, smart enough, thin enough to do that. Don’t reach for that goal, that dream, that job. You’ll never get it.
Who gave you those judgments? Why would they do that? And how long have you carried those voices in your head, believing them all? No one knows better than you what you are capable of, and no one deserves abuse.
Chip away at the cracks in the clay — These are the bursts of confidence which tell you you can do that, you are good enough. And dream of what the future can hold if you let your own golden light shine through.