The story of the Golden Buddha.
In 1957 an entire Monastery in Thailand was being relocated by a group of monks. One day they were moving a giant clay Buddha when one of the monks noticed a large crack in the clay. On closer investigation he saw there was a golden light emanating from the crack. The monk used a hammer and a chisel to chip away at the clay exterior until he revealed that the statue was in fact made of solid gold.
Historians believe the Buddha had been covered with clay by Thai monks several hundred years earlier to protect it from an attack by the Burmese army. In the attack, all the monks had been killed and it wasn’t until 1957 that this great treasure was actually discovered.
I was able to share the story of the Golden Buddha at the end of a talk I gave recently when a woman in the audience asked “Is it just a utopian dream to think that I can find my ‘why’ at work? Where do I even start looking for my purpose?”
I explained that it’s already right there inside each of us, that it’s not necessarily found in another job, a new company or another country. It’s always been there and it’s way closer than we think.
What happens over the course of our life however is that we pile layer upon layer of clay over our own Golden Buddha. The heaviest layer of clay is of our own doing – it’s our own limited thinking and our unconscious conditioning. The other layers of clay get added on from external influences (parents, schools and teachers, bosses and co-workers, society, the media, the church, government and corporations). Eventually we are so laden with clay that we forget that the Golden Buddha is there all the time.
The secret to finding our Golden Buddha, our higher purpose, lies not in the future, but in our past. All we need to do is start chipping away at the clay and rediscovering those things we were passionate about as we grew up. We reconnect with why we first went into our profession or that job we really, really loved. We recall the times when we were in flow and time stood still. We chip away at our clay with a therapist or a trusted advisor. We get curious and we do something, anything. Action always precedes clarity. Action reveals the Golden Buddha.
At a company level, we also need to reclaim our Golden Buddha. I believe that most organisations are founded with a golden intent. They are started with a higher purpose to improve humanity and not damage the planet, however over time the clay appears in the form of poor management, flawed systems, board pressure, shareholder expectations or venture capitalist demands. The most vital role for leadership is to unearth that higher purpose again and make it both the glue and the guiding North Star of the company.
Imagine a world where every person and every company could return to their natural state, their Golden Buddha. Just imagine.
Be a voice and not just an echo.
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” – Maya Angelou
Understand you own self first, then you will be ready to understand everything else.
“The physical body is only an instrument used to play the projections of one’s soul.” – David Scott
Life only demands from you the strength you already possess.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.” – Paulo Coelho
Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.
Mother Theresa taught that the best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in something you are passionate about. In her case it was serving others.
At the end of our lives we will all asked, “Did I live… Did I love… Did I matter?”
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain
“Until you’re broken and face The Dark Night of the Soul, you do not know what you are made of. At the darkest moment comes the light.” – David Scott
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell
“Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.”
. “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ― Joshua J. Marine
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.”
“Do what is right, not what is easy nor what is popular.” – Roy. T. Bennett
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Die with memories, not dreams.
Never regret anything that made you smile. – Mark Twain
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela