22 Mar You Have Inner Gold, Part 2: Go Ahead and Find it!
“Open your heart to who you are right now, not who you would like to be. Not the saint you’re striving to become. But the being right here before you, inside you, around you. All of you is holy.”
— John Wellwood, author
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
— Pema Chodron, principal teacher at Gampo Abbey
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this! As always, I aim to give you something that supports you to bring clarity, focus, ease, and grace to your life.
To begin, I will tell you a story. Like any tale, you’ll get more from it if you keep your eye on what this may have to do with you. It’s about a statue of the Buddha, made in Thailand in a style typical of the 13th and 14th centuries. It was made in the region of Sukothai.
Out of pure gold!
Later the statue was transferred from Sukothai to the kingdom of Ayutthaya in about 1403. This is where its first transformation took place.
The colossal statue was wholly plastered to prevent being stolen by Burmese invaders who ultimately destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767. It was covered with a thick layer of stucco painted and inlaid with bits of colored glass. Through various means and over the years, it was stored in numerous places, still covered in plaster and challenging to move because it was huge and weighed approximately 6.06 tons! The statue was finally taken to its present location in 1935 at Wat Traimit. By then, however, the statue’s identity had been forgotten for almost 200 years, so it remained just a massive piece of stucco.
In 1954 a new building was built to house the statue, which was moved there on May 25th, 1955. That’s where the second transformation occurred. There are different accounts of what exactly happened next, but it is clear that the ropes broke, and the statue fell hard to the ground during the final attempt to lift the figure from its pedestal. At that moment, some plaster coating chipped off, allowing the gold surface underneath to be seen.
We’ve all heard about fantastic events. The opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the discovery of 9,000-year-old Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, with the world’s oldest known megaliths, are spectacular examples. Can you imagine what happened to the observers as this immense statue of gold was revealed? How everyone experienced the event?
This situation was more phenomenal because the golden statue was discovered close to festivities commemorating the twenty-fifth Buddhist Era (2500 years since Gautama Buddha’s passing)! The Thai news media was full of reports, and many Buddhists regarded this occurrence as miraculous.
Furthermore, experts discovered that the gold statue was made in nine parts, which would unlock with a key at its base—allowing for more accessible transportation of the figure.
Bottom line: the statue was valued at around 250 million dollars after appraisal! And that was quite a few years ago. It would probably be worth more now.
How this relates to you!
You may be wondering why I took the time to tell this story. If you read the previous article titled You Have Inner Gold, Part 1, you became acquainted with one model for examining who we think we are. First is the Pretense level, where we portray ourselves as “having it all together.” This Pretense level often comes out with peers at conferences or parties.
The second is the Fear level. Here we’re afraid that there’s something wrong with us. It is where we meet the Negativity Bias, the tendency to look for what’s not working rather than what is working.
Finally, there’s Who We Are in our hearts. That’s where the gold is!
As you read the story, did you wonder if you’ve been hiding your inner gold under some “stucco”? Would it be a miracle for you to discover who you are?
Let’s start an expedition into your heart of gold. All you need to do is to be willing to begin. To be willing is to transcend your doubts, worries, and fears. You can be willing to do what you don’t know how to do. You can be willing to do something even if you are doubtful, anxious, or worried about doing it. Being willing is your power to say “yes” to the adventure even when you think you can’t do it.
So: are you willing? Say “yes” to yourself, and let’s go!
Next, this is what I invite you to do.
Make a list of what you love. Not a list of what you want or need. Just a simple list of what you love. It could look like Sally’s list:
Sally: At first, it was difficult because I’m used to making a list of what I want, need, or desire, like a wish list. This list is not about anything in the future. It’s about what I love now because that’s where what I love exists. So, here goes: I love the smell of baking bread, the sunrise on a beach, meditating, feeling the softness of my favorite black sweater, and talking with my niece Rachael.
Every day, as I got used to looking for what I love rather than want, the list became easier to add items to. When I read this list of what I love, my heart feels lighter, and I feel better about myself. I lighten up.
I talked with my Swedish friend Christofer about a big race he’s training for. I asked him what he loved about these 1000 and 3000-meter races. He said this:
Christofer: I love preparing for the race with my friends; the training, the pampering while we see what it will be like. ( I asked him about “pampering.” He insisted that it was the correct word. It’s what the trainers and team support do with the racers. They have each racer go a few steps at the pace they’ll face as they run the 1000 and 3000-meter races tomorrow. And then they stop and have the racers rest.)
Continuing with Christofer: I love standing at the start line at the race, waiting for the signal to start. I look down the line, see my friends, and feel joy because we’re all together. I’m also nervous because I know: this is it! This experience is what all that preparation, training, and planning have led me to. I feel intensely alive at those moments. I feel it all over my body. And I love it!
You can probably see that we’re aiming for the experience, unadorned with concepts, evaluations, or thoughts about the experience.
Here’s your practice, at least for the next week:
a. Each day for the next week, write at least one thing you love in a notebook that you dedicate to this journey into your heart of gold. Don’t give in to the “temptation” to give insincere or quick answers. Who you are is worth more than that! Be thoughtful and genuine as you discover all that is going “right” for you rather than what’s going “wrong.”
b. No matter who you are and what or how much you have accomplished, set all that aside for this journey. As you write daily, go further inside to encounter the gold within. This list has no expectations attached to it. Nothing you should love. Only what you do love.
For example, later, as we talked more about what he loved, Christofer told me, “I love the experience of holding my newborn son.” As he said this, his eyes softened. You could tell he was discovering what was golden inside.
c. After you’ve listed at least three examples of what you love, ask yourself the following questions:
“What might be true of someone who loves this much of their life?”
“Might this person be courageous, big-hearted, loving, creative, or adventurous?”
You want to get to the “essence” of the person who loves life in this way. It is sometimes helpful to find a picture of yourself that is at least within six or seven years of your current age. Make sure this person is smiling or enjoying themselves.
d. You can read your list to this person by first saying: “This is what you love!” And then read out some of what you wrote while looking at this picture. At this point, close your eyes for a moment, and upon opening your eyes, write down what you see is true about this person.
e. For Christofer, his following words were:
“You are creative, loving, adventurous, and courageous!”
As he said this, he relaxed! His face lost the strained look at the beginning of our talk. Who he is in his golden heart became quickly evident to him because he’d seen what he loves.
In conclusion, what you have here is a simple way to discover the gold within you. It’s a simple exercise. It is also sweet because you start with something undeniably true about you. It begins with what you love!
See you next time!
“By placing your happiness onto something external, you may forget that feeling happy is something that comes from inside, and can be found by looking inward, rather than waiting for an external action to trigger it.”
— Tania Diggory, founder of Calmer