There is a fascinating true story about the golden Buddha Statue of the Wat Traimit temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Historians estimate that this statue must have been made somewhere between the 13th – 14thcentury. This statue stands ~9’8” tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes (of gold). A true masterpiece, it was revered by monks and appreciated by anyone who got an opportunity to witness its magnificence.
Then news began to spread about the anticipated invasion of the Ayutthaya kingdom in 1767. In order to protect their beloved statue, the monks decided to camouflage the statue by covering it with layers of soil till it became unrecognizable. The effort had the desired effect, and the statue wasn’t discovered till centuries later. There are many accounts of how it eventually got discovered. According to one of these accounts, in 1801, the king of Siam, established Bangkok as the new capital and commissioned many new temples to house Buddha statues from the ruins of temples destroyed during the invasion. The statue (still camouflaged) traveled to its new home. However, it wasn’t until 25th May 1955 when during the renovation of the temple it was housed in, the ropes being hoisted to move the statue to the pedestal gave way, and the statue fell hard. As a result, some part of the layered coating chipped off, allowing the gold underneath to shine through. The layers of soil were eventually removed and the Golden Buddha, in all its brilliance, was displayed at the temple.
In his book, The Everyday Hero Manifesto, Robin Sharma refers to this story, inviting the reader to embark on an inward journey, layer by layer, and explore the inner resources and gifts. He calls it a paradox – given that discovering the resources that insulate us from the hardships in the outer world requires us to go inwards and discover our inner resources and strengths (symbolized by gold that glimmered through layers of soil). I think he references this story brilliantly to drive home the importance of inner work.
There is another aspect of this story that caught my attention because as a coach, I am privileged to get insights into what inspires one to take the journey within. I hear so many wonderful accounts of how those observers who first witness the gold in us, shining through the first crack or chip after the layer of soil shatters after a fall (a setback, a disappointment, a challenge) are the ones who play a vital role in our inner journey. For some, it is a teacher in the formative years who brought our awareness towards our inner gifts, for some it is a manager at work. In some cases, it may be parents or friends. It is a privilege to be that person who sees this brilliance of gold shining through.
There are three reasons that have inspired me to write this article: The first one is to invite you to take a moment and celebrate the inner voyage you may have undertaken for yourself. The second one is to seed the thought that each one of us can be a gentle witness and see the brilliance of gold in someone else (a colleague, a friend, our child, our team member) who can take this amazing inward journey if they were to get that gentle nudge from us and we could give them a glimpse of all that is good and great in them. And the third reason was a reminder to circle back to those who may have seen the gold shining through us and lent support in our inner journey.