This scorching hot Thailand afternoon I was sitting on a plastic chair in the shade, just inside the doorway of a Chinese Buddhist temple, examining the faces of rows of giant golden statues staring down at me. Elaborate Chinese dragons wrapped themselves tightly around pillars and enormous, brightly coloured decorations hung down from the ceiling, dancing lightly in the occasional breeze. The whole ensemble was so extravagant that I felt they were portraying a message so obvious I was missing it, like when you're playing charades and your friend is frantically jumping up and down and waving their arms around, demonstrating a concept that is juuust out of your reach, but then when you're told the answer you kick yourself - how the hell did I miss it?!
It was like that; the expressions on the statues' faces were almost straining with the answer. The luminous gold, the colourful dragons and the fancy embellishments were akin to a charades buddy's manic gesticulations. "Come on, you know this," they were insisting, "just look!" A few days earlier I had visited this temple and whispered to a golden Buddha, "Show me the way." This time I couldn't leave until I got the answer.
So, I sat a while longer, half meditating, half desperately trying to figure out what these statues were silently bellowing at me. And eventually it came:
"You see us as Gods but you're the same, you just don't realise it. Everything is perfect; open your eyes to the perfection."
"That's easy for you to say!" I thought to the all-seeing, all-knowing statues. "How do we open our eyes?" I begged, out loud into the echoey chamber. After a few short seconds the simple reply radiated from their golden faces.
Of course. OF COURSE! I closed my eyes as they filled with water that spilled onto my cheeks, the mild anxiety in my heart and head draining into peace, and the half-smile on the statues' faces reflecting onto my own.
Like I've suspected and experienced many times, this time the answer was crystal clear:
The inner peace we seek is found in surrender; accepting what is.
As I exited the shady temple into the bright sunshine I laughed a little at myself - how the hell did I miss it?!