Earlier this morning I began re-reading the book that, as far as my present-life consciousness is concerned, kickstarted my spiritual journey as I know it: Discover Your Destiny With The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma. The first time I read it, back in 2015, my whole external life was unravelling — I was in a very turbulent and chaotic relationship, I was the head of a successful company that was being consumed by internal conflict, and my life was, like Dar Sandersen’s life in the story, almost wholly externally-driven. I numbed the negativity at The Village Idiot Pub, at the intersection of Dundas and St. Patrick in Toronto, where I spent my days from lunch time to closing time. The succession of events that ensued was simply a projection of the struggle that was happening within my soul. I held the teachings of Julian Mantle as a beacon of sanity that was keeping me afloat in a very insane time. I knew that there was something larger, but I did not know how to find it.Now, it is 2020, and even though my whole life is being reconstructed, a significant part of my situation is different. I have now been actively engaged in my spiritual journey for over five years, although I feel that this year, the journey has taken a new dimension. I deeply resonate with what Patrícia S. Williams article says, regarding a period known as the dark night of the soul. As I was reading her story, I felt it was so similar to mine, which is why I share it. I feel my inner self going through a massive transformation, or maybe, not so much a transformation as a reconnection to who I truly am.
And so I was reminded of the Golden Buddha.
Throughout the book, Robin Sharma resorts to this metaphor to illustrate the purpose of our journey on Earth:
Many years ago, in the East, there was a band of monks who had a huge golden Buddha statue that they idolized. They would pray to it, meditate around it, and cherish its presence in their lives. A time came when the place where they lived faced the threat of attack from foreign invaders. Each of the monks feared that they would lose the prized possession of their community, so they all began to think of ways to protect it. One of the monks came up with a simple yet seemingly effective plan: the monks would work together to place layers of mud over the golden Buddha in an attempt to cover it up and hide it. And the plan worked: the invaders did not find it.
But there’s more, my friend. Years later, a young monk was taking his morning walk when he saw something shimmering amidst the mountain dirt he had passed by so many times before. He called out to his monk sisters and brothers and they began to peel through the layers.
And as they moved through each layer of mud covering up the golden Buddha, more and more gold began to show. Finally, with all the layers removed, the full glory of the golden Buddha could present itself. They beheld a priceless treasure…Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
The purpose of life is to remove the layers so more of the gold within us can shine and see the light of day, just as more of the golden Buddha peeked out as the monks removed the layers. And the exciting thing is that every act of courage, every act of goodness, and every act of self-responsibility will have an immediate payoff for you: each time you do what you know is the right thing and follow your truth rather than the dictates of the crowd, a little more of the mud covering up who you truly are begins to shine. Each time you act with love rather than fear, you become more of who you were meant to be. Every time you reach for your dreams and listen to your heart, you remember a little bit more of who you are.
It could not be a better allegory to what we are presently experiencing. The current events have shaken us all up, and even though it has been painful — really painful, in most cases — it also has been a great blessing. The shakeup has helped us get rid of a lot of mud that we had been dutifully — albeit unconsciously — accumulating over time.
Yet, of course, like in every separation, there is a grief period that follows withdrawal. We were used to that mud being a part of us, of who we were, or better said, of who we thought we were. Thus, it has emerged as a natural consequence that we begin to question everything, and to wonder about our true purpose of being on Earth. We feel vulnerable, and tender, and we can sometimes miss the faux sense of comfort that the mud — our fears and fear-driven actions — was providing for us.Which is why it is more important than ever that we keep uncovering.
We keep uncovering when we allow ourselves to be present with our emotions, when we choose to call ourselves out for wanting to act on our subconscious patterns that have proven to be so damaging over time. We keep uncovering when we choose love, instead of fear — when we challenge our protective mechanisms that keep us away from those we love — and that love us. It is not easy. And it is very likely that we will stumble many times.
But that’s okay.
Every time that we stumble, we are given the opportunity to be compassionate towards ourselves, which is the only real way to learn how to be compassionate towards others. Every time we do this, we keep wiping some of that mud away. We keep getting closer to who we truly are.
It is possible that for most of humanity, these are the most challenging times we have ever faced, but as in every transformation, they have also presented the opportunity of a major gift: the gift of uncovering our Golden Buddha. It is the only thing that will always be there — patiently waiting to come back to life.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Buddha Beach in Sedona, Arizona. (Photo Credits: Javier Ortega-Araiza, 2019)