Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Revealing Gold

In 1954, an insignificant Buddha statue made of painted and decorated plaster was being moved in Bangkok from its modest shed to a new temple. Weighing over five tons, the statue was too heavy for the crane and it fell to the ground. A piece of plaster chipped off the base. When the workers examined the damage they saw something shiny underneath the plaster. That something shiny turned out to be gold. Removing all the plaster revealed an exquisite, solid gold Buddha.

Crafted centuries before, the statue was at some point hidden under the plaster, probably to protect it from invaders. Over the years, the true nature of the statue was forgotten, and the plaster statue was at various times housed in minor temples and even stored under a tin shed.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when they realized the existence of this priceless treasure, which was revealed by simply removing the false exterior. When I lived in Bangkok, I stood before this gleaming statue, marveling at its breathtaking beauty. I loved it even more, I think, because of its story.

Its story is our story. Hidden under our exterior ego selves is our true nature, our gleaming, pure, divine perfection. We search high and low, reading books, following teachers, worshiping at altars, trying ever more diligently, more frantically, to find that which we most desire. And all the while, it is right where it has always been, deep inside, waiting.

We have forgotten who we are. Like the people who believed for centuries that the plaster coating was the real statue, we have bought into the illusion that we are what we think ourselves to be, when in fact, we are more than our minds can possibly imagine or understand. But if we’re lucky, at some point life will drop us on the ground, and a little piece of our carefully constructed protective layer will chip off. If we dare to peek inside, we will see the glow of Truth. And it will be beautiful.

The kingdom of God is within you. ~Luke 17:21

19 thoughts on “Revealing Gold”

  1. I always wondered, considering the immense weight of a solid gold statute (over five tons!), why no one questioned how a plaster statue could weigh so much. Yeah, they definitely needed a bigger crane. But just think–if they had had adequate machinery, we would all still think that was a plaster statue!

  2. Thanks, Lynne. I like that part, too. Standing in front of that statue, I kept thinking how the truth of this statue had been hidden and forgotten for so long, and how it was really an accident they were trying to avoid that revealed the truth.

  3. Hey, Brian. I like your phrase "a very thin veil of perception." Your observation that few people want to dig deeper reminds me of chapter 70 in the Tao Te Ching. Why is that? Is it fear? I think somewhere deep down we all want to find the peace of returning home, or revealing our true nature. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 42:7 "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls." But as Chapter 70 says, few heed the call. To paraphrase another Bible verse, all are called but few choose to listen.

  4. I guess what I am trying to say is there seems to be a very thin veil that blocks our perception or our awareness of the greatest treasure within us all. What is this veil? According to the mystics it is the veil of the self life called by many names, the separate self,the egoic self, the false self. This is what must diminish in order to enter into the "presence" of the true Self. Christians call this presence the Christ,the Holy Spirit the Hindu Upanishads call it the Self, Atman or simply "That". Buddhist refer to Buddha nature, Taoist speak of the Tao. Maybe its all the same essence of life expressed in different words. So it is all a matter of perception. We feel distant from this "Presence" because we believe we are separate beings with our own kingdoms, our own self life. We cannot enter into the "kingdom of heaven" because of this barrier that blocks our way. Buddha, Jesus and many other enlightened beings throughout history saw this great illusion of the false self and taught us a way out of this greatest of all deceptions. When we die to this false sense of self and see past its illusion we are not far from breaking through the veil of separation and we can then freely enter into the holy of hollies, the innermost temple of life.

  5. Thanks for your additional thoughts, Brian. The veil of the self life–that is a great description. I appreciate the way you drew on many sources to find the common themes. Pema Chodron says that if we really understood how our habitual patterns create so much suffering, we would practice [breaking through the barrier of misperception] like our hair was on fire! I've always loved that image!

  6. I have listened to Pema Chodron on youtube videos, I have never read any of her books. I love the Buddhist way of seeing the world , I enjoy listening to them. Most of our mental suffering would be resolved if we could as she said "break through the barrier of misperception, like our hair was on fire" However we also know that suffering is life's greatest teacher.(realizing none of us want to suffer mentally). However, many have been delivered from their false sense of self (egoic mind , illusory self ) through suffering and have entered into a more aware and loving state of being. My wife suffered through depression for years and she has become perhaps the most compassionate, non-judgenmental and humble person that I know personally. I believe the Buddhist teachings on how to live a life with less suffering is pure truth and if we could incorporate the eight fold path into our lifestyle we would all be so much better as human beings.

  7. I understand that there is a distinction between suffering and the "suffering of suffering." Suffering, as you point out, can be a gate to awakening. But we can add a layer on top of whatever inevitable suffering life brings us, for example through loss, illness, etc., by struggling against the suffering through denial, judgment, anger, blaming, etc. That added layer is the suffering of suffering, and is avoidable. Thanks for your continued thoughts. (And I think you would enjoy any of Pema Chodron's books. She is one of my favorites!)

  8. I have often pondered the meaning of that "deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls" verse and it is a mystery isn't it. Allow me to have some fun with this, Galen..To ponder out loud for a bit. (smile)..

    We can agree I am sure that Spirituality in general teaches us that, the deepest part of our being (Spirit) is one with the cosmic consciousness (God/Spirit), Spirit is one being and we are all part of it, "we live and move and have our being in it" according to the Christian scriptures. When I consider the term "the roar of your waterfalls", I see "God" (Consciousness)(Spirit) as the ground of all being and pure energy.

    So, my paraphrase of thoughts on this are;
    Our deepest spiritual inner beings (our greatest treasure)is encased and manifested in clay(matter)and it calls out to the Deepest Purist unmanifested Spirit(Energy) of the cosmos in the midst of roaring unfathomable energy fields of Creation.

    Maybe this is why the mystics insist on stillness,with no words,no thoughts as the best meditation/prayer practice to bring us closer to union with the unmanifested one.

  9. Oh my dear friend, I loved this post. I really enjoyed reading the story. Your thoughts on finding our true nature is true.
    I believe that we are spirit children of our Heavenly Father and we carry our Heavenly Parents spiritual DNA. We come here to gain a body and have life experiences. Through these life experiences we can learn and grow to know who we were really meant to be. Through the light of Christ we can be guided towards the source of greatest light; our Savior Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him we can come to know ourselves more completely. "The glow of truth is beautiful".
    Hugs for this one!

  10. Spirit children–I love that image, LeAnn. Glad you like the story of this Buddha. I was fascinated by it when I lived in Bangkok. How could something so beautiful be so hidden and overlooked for so long? Same with our true selves–right? Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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