Over the last couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the story of the golden buddha.
This is because I’ve also been asking myself the question “What’s next?” I’ve noticed a shift in my work and interest, which reflects a shift in what becoming who I am means to me. It used to be about personal re-integration, self-care, and developing a better relationship with myself.
Those things are still present (and will always be a work in progress), but becoming who I am is about more than just returning to what feels authentic and true to myself. It’s also about then taking that knowledge and awareness and using my values, strengths, and vision to contribute to the world around me. I love volunteering, collaborating, and contributing to projects that are bigger than just me, projects that leave people better off than I found them, and projects that improve our tiny corners of the world.
As my sense of what becoming who I am has expanded, so has my vision for “Becoming Who You Are” (i.e. this project). Since starting BWYA, I’ve noticed it’s evolved with my personal development (there’s a saying that we’re drawn to teach what we most need to learn ourselves—so true).
Over the last six months, I’ve focused more on the intersection between self-expression, meaning, and contribution. I’ve been approached & started working with more and more people who want to create and become, and are driven by a sense of meaning and purpose that extends beyond themselves. I’ve hosted a symposium on the psychological and emotional tools we need to be successful entrepreneurs. This is where I see and hear a need, and this is where I see my work and this community heading—not towards entrepreneurship but towards something involving meaning, purpose, change, and betterment.
I don’t fully know what this is going to look like yet (update: like this!), but as I was writing about this I remembered the following story. It captures why I feel so passionate about this next phase of growth, so I want to share it with you today:
The story of the golden Buddha
Several hundred years ago, a group of monks in Thailand (then Siam) had a big golden Buddha. Word arrived that the Burmese were about to invade. Rather than have their enemies get their mitts on their beloved (and highly valuable) statue, the monks decided to disguise its worth by covering it with clay.
Their plan worked: the Burmese arrived and figured the statue wasn’t worth looting. They also killed off all of the monks, who took the secret of the statue’s true identity to their graves…
Fast forward to the 1950s and the monastery was being relocated to make room for a Bangkok highway (modern times, yo). As part of the relocation, the monks went to move the statue and found that it was strangely heavy—so heavy that they would likely damage it unless they upgraded their statue-moving equipment. It had also started to rain, so the monks covered it up until they could figure out what to do in the morning. Later that night, the head monk went to check on the statue.
As he shone his torch over the statue, he noticed a crack. Damn. But the crack was… gleaming? He went to get a chisel and started removing the clay around the crack.
Hours later, he found himself standing in front of the solid gold Buddha that had been there all along.
The idea is that we all have our own version of “the golden Buddha” inside us. Throughout our lives, it just gets covered until we forget it’s still in there at all.
Personal growth work is about figuring out how the heck to re-discover our golden Buddha and uncover it again. If you want to stretch the metaphor about as far as it can go, once we’ve uncovered our golden Buddhas, they can shine on the people around us.
Whenever I’ve shared this story with clients, it’s provoked a lightbulb moment for them. It’s a reminder that we are all valuable in our own ways—if we’re willing to do what it takes to remove the clay.
Image: Mark Daynes