The clay that surrounds me

Katarzyna Gozdek Michaelis, M.A.

A long, long time ago in a distant land, there was a very big statue of Buddha made of pure gold. It was as high as ten people and sat in a lotus position in the beautiful and and tranquil garden in a Buddhist monastery. Over the years many pilgrims came to sit at its feet and pray or meditate. So it happened that the country was invaded by a foreign army and the monks decided to disguise their beloved statue so it looked like an ordinary stone. They worked tirelessly until the whole surface was covered in grey clay. When the army passed the monastery, they took no notice of the big, grey statue. The army occupied the land for many many years, and by the time they left, everyone had forgotten about the true nature of the statue. One day, a young man went to meditate in the shade of the big grey Buddha and a piece of clay fell off revealing its true nature. The local people were alerted and soon the statue was restored to its original golden condition. This magnificent statue still sits in its original position in the Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok.

It is a remarkable and true story of the most beautiful statue of Buddha that exists in all of the Far East. This story is a perfect metaphor for my own process of healing that I experienced not so long ago battling with and finally overcoming a very debilitating condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME.

I fell ill with ME some 15 years ago, after a bout of an ordinary flu that left me ill for the next 10 years. Those who are familiar with this condition will know that it presents itself as a set of very debilitating symptoms that render people incapacitated and unable to lead any resemblance of normal life. It is not a terminal disease, but the complete lack of energy feels often like death itself. I was lucky though that I could get out of bed and attend to simple things in life, like cooking an evening meal for my family. But there are people that are bedridden and unable to do anything. What's worse is that contemporary medicine has no known cure for it.

Although officially labelled and diagnosed as an ME sufferer, I refused to accept it. I always hoped that I would beat it one way or another. But it certainly wasn't easy and I had periods when I was in the depths of despair. Over the years I tried every possible potion and meandered through all the alternative medical paths to alleviate the symptoms. But nothing much was making any significant difference. Having exhausted all possible routes I felt that I reached the end of my human possibilities. I couldn't do anything more. I arrived at the point that I needed a miracle if I ever was going to have my life back.....

In desperation I turned to the Bible and all the spiritual books that I had collected over the years. And then, one day, during my long resting periods, I picked 'A course in miracles' and opened it randomly on a page that read a sentence that changed my life forever. It said:

'What you behold as sickness and as pain, weakness and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenceless and in hell. Yield not to this and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mist before the sun'.

When I read this sentence I felt as if I was touching the hem of Christ's robe. I instantaneously believed what it said. The message went straight into the depths of my being. I felt that there was a deep truth hidden in it, and as long as I could practise this new way of perceiving myself I would get better. It was like the first piece of thick clay falling at my feet, revealing shiny, golden patch underneath.

The message literally urged me to reverse the order of my perceptions. If I was not defenceless, that meant that there was something inside me that was perfectly capable of being healthy. The message urged me to look deeper within. It convinced me that what I accepted as real was but an outer crust, an appearance. It was only a layer of clay that was stuck to me to tempt me to see myself as ill and hide my true state of being which was always perfect, healthy, magnificent and made of the purest substance.

With the renewed hope I began my new quest of retraining myself in the way I viewed myself. I would consciously look past what my senses presented to me as real, and I rejected my identity as a sick person. I would assert that perfect health was a state of my true identity and my true reality. Over time I chiselled away every bit of clay that was covering up my real state of being and at last I uncovered the whole Buddha statue in its original pristine form. And when that happened, just as the message promised, the condition disappeared like mist before the sun. I fully recovered. It didn't happen overnight, but in time all the symptoms completely disappeared and I regained my energy.

May be this story sounds unbelievable, may be it sounds mystical and far fetched, but nevertheless, it's true. I taught myself not to give in into temptation of seeing myself as grey clay of illness. And once I changed my belief that grey clay is all there is for me to contend with, I regained my health. This approach worked for me. It works for everybody who wants to learn it and apply it. That's why I would love to share it with others.

I also hope that it will encourage others to experiment with the statue of Buddha in their life. The clay statue of Buddha can represent any situation in our life. Beginning with health problems, to employment, relationships, finance. Whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we don't have to take the grey clay, the false appearance as the face value. We can train ourselves to look past it, reach out beyond it. We can refuse to be tempted to perceive the surface appearance. We have to chisel away the muck and remember that it is only the disguise that hides true reality. It might take time and effort, but it's worth it. It might even save your life..... and will always change your circumstances for the better. So, always search for the golden Buddha, the real McCoy, in situations, in yourself and in others – and be assured that it is always there to be found.

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