Reprint from January 2016. A good reminder for us all.
Thailand is home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha statue. Approximately 12,000 pounds, at the current price of gold it’s worth about $260 million. This treasure was covered with stucco for many years, as a way of hiding its true value and protecting it from theft. When the statue was moved in the 1930s, some of the plaster fell off and the gold was rediscovered.
Gold covered in plaster, waiting to be free. Sounds like the human experience.
Yoga philosophy teaches us that we are all vessels of the Divine. Atman, our inner self (some call it the soul) is the part of us that is one with the Universe. We are wonder and grace and beauty wrapped in a human body. The challenge is that our human body lives in a world not geared toward letting us be our best selves. Judgment, competition and criticism create layer after layer of protective stucco and pretty soon we can’t find our gold.
The miraculous thing about our inner Divine is that, no matter how much we cover it, it’s doesn’t go away. It’s there, patiently waiting for us to live a Golden Life. I truly believe the Universe wants us to cultivate our oneness, and so it shakes us up from time to time with the hope of cracking the stucco and giving us a glimpse of our gold. How many times have you said, “If that awful thing hadn’t happened, I never would have <fill in the blank with something good. >” Lessons from adversity are part of the human experience, if we want them to be. We, of course, have the choice to slap on more stucco and stay in a place that feels safe. Exposing our gold can make us vulnerable, right? It can open us up to even more judgment, competition and criticism. Or not.
Yoga gives us the tools we need to live a Golden Life. Quieting our minds helps us peel away external distractions and focus on what’s real and good. It helps us think more clearly and honestly without worrying about all the things spinning around us everyday. Time on our mat (literally or figuratively) helps us take a break from work, obligations, and self-judgment, all of the things that make our minds spin. None of those things will go away but, when we live a Golden Life, we learn to focus on what matters most. We can stop sweating the small stuff. We can learn not just to cope, but also to embrace and enjoy this human life and all of its craziness.
One of our Yoga For Every Body students told me last week, “Yoga helps me deal with a woman at work who used to bug me. When she gets all worked up, I can say, ‘Chill. It’s going to be OK.’ That feels so good.” I’ve met others who, through yoga, were able to face fears and try new hobbies or adventures. Sometimes a willingness to try new things starts with a challenging posture and sometimes the work is more internal. Either way, our inner Divine is waiting patiently to be let out.
I encourage you to recognize how much stucco you might be carrying around. It’s a heavy load. Next, allow your yoga practice to help you start chipping away at that stucco, one bit at a time. I promise you’ll see a glimmer of gold. Your challenge, my challenge, is to cultivate a willingness to let the gold shine through until our radiant Divine guides our lives. It ain’t easy and it ain’t gonna happen overnight. Yoga’s a practice. Sometimes comfortable, sometimes challenging, always worth it.
Want to learn more about the Golden Buddha? Here’s video of the story.