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How often do you reveal your golden buddha?

Today is March 15 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reveal your golden Buddha?” The Golden Buddha in Thailand, commonly known in Thai as Phra Sukhothai Traimit was made in Sukhothai sometime during the 13th-14th centuries.

At some point, the statue was completely plastered over and moved to Ayutthaya to prevent it from being stolen. The statue was covered with a thick layer of stucco, which was painted and inlaid with bits of colored glass. It is believed that this plastering-over took place before the destruction of Ayutthaya kingdom by Burmese invaders in 1767. The statue remained among the ruins of Ayutthaya without attracting much attention.

In 1801, Thai King Rama I ordered various old Buddha images be brought to Bangkok from the ruined temples around the country. At the time of King Rama III (1824-1851), the statue, still covered with stucco, was installed as the principal Buddha image in the main temple building of Wat Chotanaram in Bangkok.

When Wat Chotanaram, located near Chinatown, fell into disrepair, and was closed, the statue was moved to its present location at the nearby Wat Traimit in 1935. At the time, Wat Traimit was a pagoda of minor significance. Since the temple didn't have a building big enough to house the statue, it was kept for 20 years under a simple tin roof.

In 1954, a new Viharn building was built at the temple to house the statue. It was moved to its new location in May 1955; there are a variety of accounts of what exactly happened next, but it is clear that during the final attempt to lift the statue from its pedestal, the ropes broke, and the statue fell hard on the ground. At that moment, some of the plaster coating chipped off, allowing the gold surface underneath to be seen. Work was immediately stopped so that an evaluation could be made.

All the plaster was carefully removed and during the process, photos were taken and are now displayed in the Temple for visitors. Pieces of the actual plaster are also on public display. When all the plaster was removed, it was found that the gold statue consisted of nine parts that fit smoothly together. A key was also found encased in plaster at its base, which can be used to disassemble the statue, allowing for easier transportation.

The golden statue was discovered very close to the commemoration of the twenty-fifth Buddhist Era (2500 years since Gautama Buddha's passing) so the Thai news media was full of reports and many Buddhists regarded the occurrence as miraculous. In February 2010, a large new building was inaugurated at the Wat Traimit Temple to house the Gold Buddha. The building also contains the Bangkok Chinatown Heritage Centre and an exhibition on the origin of the Gold Buddha.

The Buddha is represented in the traditional pose of Bhumisparsha Mudra, also known as the “earth witness.” A mudra in Buddha statues is a gesture and body posture holding special meanings and commemorating few of the important moments in the Buddha's life.

In this mudra Buddha is seen seated with his right hand as a pendant over the right knee reaching toward the ground with the palm inward while touching the lotus throne. In the meantime, the left hand can be seen with the palm upright in his lap. This gesture represents the moment of the Buddha's awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment.

There are several points to reflect upon here with today’s post.

  • To protect the golden statue, it was covered over in stucco and made less attractive so as not to draw attention to itself. Doing so was paramount to its survival. Is that not what people do at times? To Navigate the Chaos people often hide their true self and do what they need to do in order to survive. Such behavior is certainly understandable given the circumstance. How often have you covered your golden buddha to protect your inner light from the chaos at the moment?

  • The golden statue remained covered for hundreds of years as no one even knew it was hidden underneath the stucco façade. How long are you willing to hide your golden buddha? How long can you keep the façade strong enough so as to protect your inner light?

  • Fortunately, when workers were moving the golden buddha from one location to another its exterior cracked and exposed its original condition. Are you waiting for some external event to crack your exterior to expose your golden buddha to the world? Are you able to crack your mold to reveal your golden buddha to the world?

  • When is the last time you sat in the Bhumisparsha Mudra as a testament that you claim the earth as the witness of your enlightenment? Is something preventing you from having the earth bear witness to your genuine self? Why is that? You have every right to have the earth claim witness to your enlightenment. The choice is yours.

  • There is a golden buddha within each of us waiting to be revealed. When is the last time you revealed your golden buddha?

  • How often do you think about ways to leverage your mind, body, and spirit to help reveal your golden buddha?

  • How often do you help others reveal their golden buddha?


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