|Budai or Hotei, the "fat happy monk and bodhisattva" behind the Buddha (Khorsani/flickr)|
The Buddha's my DadCC Liu and Dhr. Seven (COMMENTARY)
|Budai, Laughing Buddha (Melo Man/flick|
Budai (Chinese 布袋) or Hotei (Japanese) is also known as the Laughing Buddha (or sometimes the Fat Happy Buddha).
He is not a buddha. In China he is called Budai the Luóhàn (arhat). But he might be Maitreya (Pali, Metteya; Hebrew/Aramaic Messiah), the person who will become the next buddha/"light of the world" after Gautama Buddha.
Maitreya means "friend." This is significant because the Buddha famously said that friendship is the most important thing to gaining enlightenment. And of all friends, it is the "noble friend" (kalyana mitta) who is most important. And though we have many good friends and many people who help us over many lives, no one is more important than the Buddha. Why? Such a person is the ultimate friend -- that person best exhibiting maitri (mettā, friendliness, loving-kindness). He's kind of like my dad, my heavenly Father. Of course, my Father has limits. For all his love, He cannot enlighten me so as to save me from all suffering, for he has not attained it himself. The Buddha attained it and led his family to that attainment -- notably his 7-year-old son (Rahula).
|The Buddha's father, Suddhodana (enasha.com)|
Shakyamuni Buddha, guardian nagas, Budai/Hotei, and Kwan Yin on a Chinese-inspired altar in Thailand (thailandinformation.de)
Budai/Hotei/Laughing Buddha, as seen in this short video, has become incorporated into Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto culture -- based on a beloved Chinese monk, a kind of Buddhist Santa Claus figure who carried a big sack and gave candy and trinkets to kids.
He is seen in many temples, Chinese restaurant, and Asian businesses. Sadly, he is so famous that he is often confused for "the Buddha" even by the restauranteurs, business owners, and altar keepers!
|Budai, Money Buddha (Abraham-Hicks/Law of Attraction)|
Budai has become a god (deva) of happiness and abundance, something suggested by his exaggerated belly, when taken in by Taoism and Buddhism.
In Japan, Hotei is one of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin). He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, sometimes pointing at the Moon, leading to his nickname (笑佛) in Chinese, the "Laughing Buddha."
The world is waiting for the Bodhisattva, the Buddha-to-come, Maitreya. The popular embodiment is Father Budai.