The Golden Buddha 

as told by Alan Cohen

Many years ago in Thailand there was a temple called the Temple of the Golden Buddha. In it was a huge statue of a golden buddha.

One day word came to the village where the monastery was, that an army from a neighboring country was about to invade. And the monks and the villagers came up with a brilliant scheme to cover the golden buddha, which was quite large, with mud and concrete so that it looked basically like a stone buddha, and the army would perceive no value in it.

And sure enough this army rolled in with its caissons and weapone and as they passed by the monastery, they saw nothing but a big stone buddha and they had no reason to plunder it.

Years went by and the army continued to occupy the village until there was a time when no one in the monastery, or the village remembered that the buddha was golden.

Then one day a young monk was sitting on the buddha’s knee meditating. As he got up, a little piece of concrete happened to crack off and he saw something shiny. He realized there was gold under there so he ran to his fellow monks and cried, “The buddha’s golden! The buddha’s golden!” They all came out and realized he was telling the truth, and they took their picks and hammers and eventually they unearthed the golden buddha.

Now what’s the metaphor here? The metaphor is that each of us is golden by nature. We were born golden. We were born high; we were born knowing and we were born connected to our bliss. We were born knowing truth and we were born knowing everything every great spiritual master has ever said. We were one with the Christ, with the Buddha and with everyone.

But then we went to school and they said, “you have to dress like this,” and “this is what boys do, and this is what girls do; this is what black people dfo, this is what white people do.” And on and on and on.

And so we developed a casing of stone over the buddha to a point where at a young age; maybe four, five, six or seven, we believed that we were the stone buddha, not the golden one.

And then something comes along that cracks our casing. Maybe it’s an injury, a divorce or a financial setback, a governmental change - something that really scares us and bugs us, and knocks off a piece of our armor. And only in that moment of the armor being knocked off, do you get to look inside and see the gold.

And let me tell you friend, that the moment you see that gold, the armor and concrete will never satisfy you again. And at that point you truly enter the true hero’s journey. And all you will want to do for the rest of your life is pick away the stones because the gold is so much more fun.


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