Last summer, I invited a houseful of girlfriends to stay with me for the Nantucket Yoga Festival where I showed Yogamere™ for the first time. At the end of the weekend, they gave me this lovely gift. Though this guy is often confused with being Buddha himself, he’s actually an historical Chinese monk named Budai (“cloth sack”).
His relaxed pose, laughing smile and exposed belly have come to symbolize abundance in all forms ... contentment, love, posterity, compassion.
A bit eccentric, Budai wandered around with his possessions in a cloth sack, often sleeping outside, entertaining the village children, giving people predictions of their futures. Over time and history, his image became known as the “Laughing Buddha” or “Fat Buddha”, which I suppose is understandable.
It makes no difference to me that he’s not actually Buddha. I like him just the same. I like that he could carry all his possessions in a cloth sack, that he rubbed his belly and liked to laugh. I like that he didn’t take himself or his circumstances too seriously.
Given the choice between the skinny, serious one and the fat one with the grin, I much prefer Budai right now. And, really, that state of mind is a choice we get to make.