Buddhist meditation teacher and author Tara Brach describes our true nature as “loving awareness”:
Increasingly over the years, my trust in this loving awareness as the essence of who we all are has become a guiding light. No matter how wrong or lacking we may feel, how caught in separation, or how trapped by the messages, violations, and inequities of the society we live in, this basic goodness remains the essence of our Being.
A beautiful story holds within it this truth. During the mid-1950s in Bangkok, Thailand, 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. What they saw surprised everyone. Deep under the gray clay was the gleam of gold.
No one had known that inside this popular but 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. Although all the monks who lived in the monastery at that time had been killed in the attack, the golden Buddha, its beauty and value covered over, had survived untouched.
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. As children many of us were criticized, ignored, misunderstood, or abused, leading us to doubt that gold within us. As we grow up, we increasingly internalize the judgments and values of our society, further losing touch with our innocence, our creativity, and our tender hearts. We cover over the gold as we seek the approval of others, looking to them to measure our worth—to determine whether we are good enough, smart enough, successful enough.
Brach tells how the false self is developed and sustained, even as the True Self is indestructible:
Adding layer after layer to protect ourselves, we become identified with our coverings, believing ourselves to be separate, threatened, and deficient. Yet even when we cannot see the gold, the light and love of our true nature cannot be dimmed, tarnished, or erased. It calls to us daily through our longing for connection, our urge to understand reality, our delight in beauty, our natural desire to help others. Our deepest intuition is that there is something beyond our habitual story of a separate and isolated self: something vast, mysterious, and sacred….
Even though the gold of your true nature can get buried beneath fear, uncertainty, and confusion, the more you trust this loving presence as the truth of who you are, the more fully you will call it forth in yourself and in all those you touch. And in our communities, as we humans increasingly remember that gold, we’ll treat each other and all beings with a growing reverence and love.
Tara Brach, Trusting the Gold: Uncovering Your Natural Goodness (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2021), 2–3, 5.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Field Study 1 (detail), oil pastel on canvas. Taylor Wilson, Field of the Saints (detail), print. Taylor Wilson, Isha (detail), watercolor and cyanotype. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Artist Statement (Taylor Wilson): This collection is an exploration of the iconic visuals we are culturally familiar with.… Playing and replaying with what the ancients already knew and then taking the responsibility of sacred knowledge forward through modern expression with the Spirit.
Story from Our Community:
I often turn to the Daily Meditations to start my day with a centered frame of mind. I found the Daily Meditation on “Separateness Is Suffering” very moving. Kabir Helminski’s quote on education spoke to me as an educator for over twenty-five years. On a good day in the classroom, I did try “to awaken [students] from the sleep of their limited conditioning and know the potential latent in the human being.” In my experience, so much of curriculum is detached from discussions of the human spirit and our experience as sentient beings. As I reflect on the new online trend in education, I sincerely hope that new teachers can continue to connect with students in a way that awakens their essential self. —Spencer E.