Building the Buddha

“No one’s coming to temple! What are we going to do?” the lower priest said to the high priest. The high priest, took his underling’s words as an outright attack on the quality of his sermons. He knew good sermons drew good crowds. His sermons drew no one. He gave them anyway, to the wind, hoping someone would pick them up off the breeze, and follow the direction they came. So far, the wind had only attracted the hot hair breathed from the lungs of his lower priest. The high priest suspected this particular lower priest had high sights set on his high priest’s chair.

“Go get water,” the high priest commanded. The low priest obeyed.

Alone, the high priest sat on his wooden throne, squeezing his mind like a fruit, hoping a drop of inspiration would fall into his cup.

“Anything?” He asked the wind.

“Nothing,” the echo replied. 

So, the high priest got up to take a stroll around the temple grounds, hoping inspiration would fall like acorns.

In the carpentry hut the high priest found a priest chipping away at a slab of black marble. The slab was being chiseled into the shape of a man sitting in prayer. The high priest was struck by the statue’s beauty and the skill of its craftsman. The high priest did something he almost never did: he gave a compliment.

“That’s wonderful.”

The words broke the sculptor from his trance. He put down the hammer and chisel and bowed to his high priest. “It’s you,” the lower priest said, motioning to his sculpture.

“Me?” The high priest made no attempt to hide his flattery. He liked the sculpture and sculptor even more. He was then struck with inspiration that didn’t come in the form of an acorn, but a piece of marble. “No, it’s not. This is a statue of the Buddha.”

The sculptor did not know what to do or say. He could not argue with his high priest, though, the thought of sculpting the Buddha seemed wrong.

“Please, get back to work. Finish it, and we’ll put it on its own throne, next to mine, and we’ll see what kind of crowds that will get.”

And two months later, the statue took its place next to the high priest’s throne. The Buddha statue sat one meter above the priest, to act as the temple’s show-piece. And it brought the crowds who would admire it while ignoring the high priest’s boring lectures on everything from finding the Buddha in you, to the importance of bathing.

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