I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately, particularly with my day job. I’m irritable and quick to judge. I wanted to reconnect with the person I want to be, my inner Karen of calm openness. As usual, I ended up wandering down a different path than I intended and found myself in a beautiful place. I set out to connect better with myself but ended up finding what I needed through connections with others.
A workshop popped up on my twitter feed, a zoom session with Tara Brach talking about her new book, Trusting the Gold. Tara is the author of a couple of books that (radically) changed how I am in the world: Radical Compassion and Radical Acceptance, so I eagerly signed up.
While I fiddled with my zoom settings to clear the clutter of hundreds of participants from my screen (muttering to myself, why would anyone leave their video on?), Tara told the story of the clay Buddha. Here’s my version:
Monks caring for a massive clay statue of Buddha were having difficulty caring for its frequent cracks. Despite their best efforts to maintain the clay, the cracks got deeper. One day, they noticed a warm glow coming from the deepest crack. They found that the statue itself was made of gold. The huge golden Buddha had been covered with dirt and clay to protect it during a time of danger. The monks had been working to maintain its cover long after the need for protection had ended.
We’ve all been covering ourselves for extra protection recently (not just literally! metaphorically!), and I’d been working on my protective shield so much that I’d forgotten the gold inside. When we did an exercise about a source of stress, I realized I’d been separating myself emotionally from my workplace and the people there. I’m taking early retirement at the end of the year, and I guess I’d started my internal goodbye process ahead of schedule. A bit of clay crumbled off me.
The zoom session continued. I stopped taking notes. I opened the gallery view and scrolled through, saying hello (on zoom-mute of course, but yes, out loud, my cats didn’t mind) to each of the participants. I cried as I did some of the meditations and could see others wiping away their own tears.
Near the end, one of the audience questions led Tara to do an exercise with a participant that was moving, intimate, and so relatable it felt like she was speaking to me personally.
After that, Tara asked us to scroll through the gallery view and simply look at someone and know they were wishing us well. I did the unthinkable and turned on my own video, so that someone could see me.
I am a hider, forever wishing for invisibility. My urge to let others see me was a landslide of clay falling away.
I have a golden Buddha inside me, yes, and its glow shines calmness through me. The magic I needed though, came from seeing hundreds of golden Buddhas glowing back at me. Connection. Acceptance. Compassion.
My steps are lighter today, my smile warmer. Let’s see how my work meetings go tomorrow 🙂