God and The Golden Buddha

Author: Larry Dansky

The more you trust the loving presence within you as the truth of who you are, the more fully you will call it forth in yourself, and in all those you touch. No matter how wrong or lacking we may feel, or how trapped by the messages, violations, and inequities of the society we live in, this basic goodness remains the essence of our Being.  – Tara Brach, Founder, Insight Meditation Society

I don’t often “feel” like a beloved child of God. But I know that that is my most primal identity and I know that I must choose it above and beyond my hesitations. As a spiritual practice, claim and reclaim your primal identity as beloved daughter or son of a personal Creator. – Henri Nouwen

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – from “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen

Tara Brach tells a story of the Golden Buddha. During the mid-1950s in Bangkok, a huge clay statue of the Buddha began to crack due to heat and drought. When some monks arrived to investigate, they shined a flashlight into the largest of the cracks. Inside this ordinary looking statue was a solid gold Buddha. As it turns out, the statue had been covered with plaster and clay six hundred years earlier to protect it from invading armies. She writes “Just as the monks disguised the beauty of the golden Buddha in order to protect it during dangerous times, we cover our own innate purity and goodness as we encounter a challenging world.”

The more I study different religions, the more I find that, despite using different words, the meanings of the teachings are similar. In Buddhism, the Golden Buddha in us is our Basic Goodness. The Dali Lama calls this the “Jewel in the Lotus”, referring to our connection to the Buddha within. Judaism teaches us that all human beings are created in the divine image and therefore are linked to God by the Divine Spark within them. The fundamental teaching of Hinduism is that the spirit of God is within all of us and all creation. In Christianity, theologians talk about our true self, who we are in God, the Divine within. Henri Nouwen writes “You are the place where God chooses to dwell. The spiritual life is nothing more or less than to allow that space to exist where God can dwell.”

Unfortunately, when we are filled with self-doubt, we buy into the narrative that we need to create an identity that fits in with society norms. We let our sense of self-worth be defined by others. We depend on others for validation, and create a false self in order to fit in. We cover our Golden Buddha with plaster and clay, and lose sight of our Basic Goodness.

I‘ve been there, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. So how do we embrace our true selves? In my opinion, it comes down to one important act. We have to learn how to accept our imperfections and embrace our vulnerabilities. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” We can do that when we accept that we are indeed children of God, and when we can know that we are loved by God despite our imperfections. Just as the monks discovered the Golden Buddha by looking into the cracks in the plaster, we can discover the divinity within by acknowledging our brokenness and vulnerabilities. It is through these cracks that the light gets in.

Holy one, Help me to accept my imperfections and embrace my vulnerabilities. As a child of God, remind me to allow that space to exist inside me where God can dwell.



Leave Comment