Hotei 布袋 – The Laughing Buddha
Originally posted at ChrisTinney.com – The Hotei (布袋) Buddha, also known as the Laughing Buddha (笑佛) had a jolly demeanor, big smile, large protruding stomach and never empty cloth sack full of good fortune, food for the hungry, and toys for children. He was a Chinese monk that lived in the 10th-century Chinese Buddhist monk named Budaishi (d. 917). Many believe he him to be the incarnation of Miroku Bodhisattva (Maitreya in Sanskrit), the future Buddha. Originally named Hotei (in Japan) or Budai or Pu-Ta (in China) he is known by many today as the Laughing Buddha .
The Hotei was actually not a Buddha. He was a Bhinese Buddhist monk that lived in the 10th-century named Budaishi (d. 917). Many believe him to be the incarnation of Miroku Bodhisattva (Maitreya in Sanskrit), the future Buddha. He was eccentric, very kind, generous and loved children. Today, he is popular in Buddhist and Shinto culture and symbol of living well.
Laughing Buddha of Joy & Good Fortune
The Hotei or “Laughing Buddha” is the Buddha contentment and happiness, guardian of children, and patron of bartenders. He has a cheerful face and a big belly. He carries a large cloth bag over his back (Nunobukuro 布袋, lit. = cloth bag), one that never empties that contains gifts and fortune for those who believe in his virtues. His bag is said to be full of an inexhaustible cache of treasures, including food and drink. The later making him a popular saint to bartenders and restauranteurs. The Japanese spelling of “Hotei” literally means “cloth bag. (Nunobukuro 布袋, lit. = cloth bag)
The big, jolly monk would go from one village to the next with his never inexhaustible bag feeding the poor, handing out toys to children and spreading happiness and joy. The Laughing Buddha, known as Pu-Tai at the time, was a charismatic character. Wherever he went people would be drawn to him like a magnet. Large crowds would gather, including many happy children. Every so often he would put the bag down, stare up at the sky and start to laugh madly. His laughter proved to be so contagious, that soon everyone who had gathered would start to laugh as well, thus his nickname the Laughing Buddha.
Laughing Buddha’s Message
The funny thing about the Laughing Buddha is that he hardly ever spoke. When he did, it was mostly to answer questions about why he lived in such an eccentric way, which he would answer by explaining that handing out sweets, toys and good fortune was to demonstrate that the more you give, the more you receive. His bag represented the problems all people encounter in life. He taught that instead of clinging to them, you should distance yourself from a problem by putting it down (just like he would put the bag down) and laugh at it because whether you laugh or cry, the problem is not going to change.