The Buddha That Got Away

As I have mentioned in previous posts, our trip to Thailand was very Buddha centric. We traveled from one city to the next visiting pristine golden temples and ancient crumbling ruins to see incredible images of the Buddha.

Some of the Buddhas were newly made while others were hundreds of years old. I was excited to learn that we were going to see the one Buddha I had seen on the Internet and wanted to see in person, the Phra Atchana Buddha. This particular Buddha is one of the largest, but I had never seen an image of the whole statue, just the hand. I have a great appreciation for hands and images of hands;  it was the hand of this particular Buddha that I found quite intriguing.

The day we arrived at the site of the Phra Atchana Buddha it was an incredible 105 degrees with humidity that seemed just as high. As I made my way off the air condition bus and headed towards the Phra Atchana Buddha, all I could see was the upper part of this huge, white colored Buddha. So I had no idea this was the Buddha I had been longing to see, the one with the larger than life, graceful, golden hand. I had always assumed the Buddha with the graceful golden hand was  golden all over. Later I was  informed that devotees purchase real gold foil and as an offering and place the gold foil onto the white hand of this statue, making it appear golden.

As I made my way towards this Buddha, I felt overwhelmed by the heat and humidity. The three women I traveled with, along with a few others on our tour, quite aware of the heat didn’t attempt to leave the bus. As I stepped off the bus, the air seemed incredibly thick and the Buddha appeared half of a football field away. As I walked a sharp pain entered my left eye and traveled to my head. I wondered if I might have a heat stroke if I proceeded. I was a quarter way there, when I turned back. Once on the bus, I refreshed myself with cold water and Anu Essentials Refresh Spritzer.

I was bothered by the fact that I didn’t get to see this one Buddha that I had long imagined seeing. In this instance, perhaps it was ignorance that saved me. Had I known this was the Golden Hand Buddha, I might have pushed on to my demise. I’ve asked myself what does it mean that I didn’t get to see this particular Buddha? Was it symbolic, indicating that I wasn’t spiritually ready? I don’t know, but I do know I feel like this was the “Buddha that got away.”  It is for this reason and many others, that I will have to return to Thailand one day. It just won’t be during their summer. And just imagine, days in a row of 105 degree and this was considered the start of the Thai summer season.

This photo by our tour guide, Kanokwan Taewattana.  Thank you Nok!