I love sharing this particular story about an ordinary looking clay Buddha with fellow business leaders and my colleagues. It is a great example of getting to the essence of seeing people for who they truly are in the workplace. I first heard about this story from Jack Kornfield’s book “The Wise Heart”. Three years after I first heard the story I got to see the Buddha in person when I traveled to Thailand in 2013. The pictures you will see below are personal pictures that I took during my journey.
Until 1955, Bangkok was the home to an ordinary looking clay Buddha statue. You see, the Buddha statue sat in an quiet monastery outside the city for almost a quarter century, forgotten and ignored. Most people didn’t remember its origins, must less knew about the secret it held. Thailand’s ruling government began modernizing Bangkok in1955 and many religious artifacts were moved. The abandoned temple property was purchased and plans were made for a road to be built over it.
While unsure about moving everything safely, the monks began the process of moving the statue to a new temple that was just built. The statue is attached to several ropes then connected to a crane that was judged sufficient to lift it. On the first day of the first lift the crane strains and the ropes begin to give way. As they begin to set the Buddha down one rope breaks causing the Buddha to land hard.
Worried it may be damaged and that a larger crane would be needed, the monks covered the 10ft Buddha with tarps to protect it from the rains. While engineers said it was OK, the Leader Monk was concerned. The Leader monk wakes up in the middle of the night gets his flashlight and checks on it. There, he discovers a widened crack. Inside something is shining…
… A Golden Buddha was discovered! It is the largest solid gold statue in the world, worth over $240M by today’s gold standard.
Around 1781, monks had covered the statue with clay to protect it from Burmese invasion. The monks were all killed in the invasion, and the golden Buddha died with them. It’s true identity hidden for almost three centuries! An additional amazing discovery was a key in the base allowed the Buddha to be taken apart in nine pieces and moved safely.
The Golden Buddha now sits in a new temple, Wat Traimat and it is one of the largest attraction in Thailand. It is open to all who wish to respectfully visit and view. During my time in Thailand, I knew that I really wanted to have the experience of seeing The Golden Buddha in person. As an added bonus, I was also really surprised to see the original clay mask that The Golden Buddha was hidden in on the side of the street outside of the temple!
All of us have built masks that we wear to fit into this society. We believe at Weave that behind our masks we all have within us a radiant being – more radiant and more valuable than this version of the statue! It’s our mission to help people in the workforce reveal the hidden value that already exists in each and every one of their colleagues.