Have a Merry Hotei Day!

25 Dec


Have a very happy Hotei Day!  Who’s Hotei, you ask?  Allow me to introduce to you Hotei (Japanese), also known as Budai (or Pu-Tai in Chinese), whose name means “Cloth Sack” because he used to carry a bag full of toys for children with him.  You may know him from his ubiquitous appearance at Chinese restaurants where he is often referred to as the Happy Buddha, the Laughing Buddha, the Fat Buddha, or the Fat, Jolly Buddha.  He is actually not to be confused with the historical Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.  Historically, he is based upon a Chan (Zen) monk from the tenth century whose real name was Qieci.  The monk used to travel around from town to town with prayer beads and a hemp sack full of toys and candy for children.  Because of his bag-full-o-goodies, the children would follow him and, as he dispensed presents to them, he simultaneously taught them the Dharma through his generous actions.  He had little interaction with the “wise” and “learned,” or other monks, preferring the company of children.  But it is said that a monk once asked him, “What is the meaning of Zen?”  Hotei dropped his bag.  The monk then asked, “How does one realize Zen?”  Hotei then picked up his bag and continued on his way to cheer the children.  It is often said that he is the enigmatic figure who appears in the ultimate image of the famous “Ten Bulls” sequence.



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