My husband purchased this Laughing Buddha for me a few years ago as a Mother’s Day gift. He’s served his purpose well. Every time I look at him I smile.
This portrayal of the Buddha is often known as Hotei. He is a deity of contentment and abundance. “According to legend, if one rubs the Laughing Buddha's great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity. “(Source) I can’t say that I’ve rubbed his tummy in the hope of receiving treasure. What I have done is place him on my front porch or in my garden or at the edge of our tiny woods. I like seeing him among the elements of nature: covered with snow, a bird perched on his head, or a squirrel nibbling acorns at his feet.
I do this because his presence there reminds me to “be well with what is,” just like he himself appears to be doing. This was one of the most potent teachings of the historic Buddha—to not resist what is here. It is our resistance to things as they are that can cause us much internal suffering. Walking through life, wishing that what we’re experiencing would be different, invites inner struggle, resentment, depression, and more.
So when I grumble about an early snowfall, for example, and I see Hotei grinning through the flakes, I am calmed. I can embrace equanimity too, I think to myself. When I see him enduring a woodland creature peck, peck, pecking at him—a big smile still on his face—I believe I can endure in that way too, no matter who or what is doing the pecking.
Mostly, what he helps me believe is that I can do this. I can do this life, partake in this world just as it is, if I have inner calm, clarity, and confident. I can do this. No matter what.
And if I am mindful, filled with the spirit of metta, I can do it even more gracefully, with a smile on my face and one in my heart. Just like Hotei.
And for this, I bow in gratitude ...
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.