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
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
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."