"The Laughing Buddha"
In every image that I have ever seen, the Buddha is smiling. Not just ha ha, but grinning from ear to ear. Well, these images are not just in American gardening shops. (You can also get them through Amazon!) The Buddha is smiling wherever you go. He is in fact laughing. He knows something that we don't.
Recently I took a trip to Beijing, China. There I had the pleasure of spending time with a Tibetan monk named Erdijanza. He told me about his daily rituals:
• He begins each day preparing food for the Buddha.
• He continues with a meditation in which his thoughts focus on this laughing Buddha.
• Throughout the day, he uses a strand of 108 beads to prompt meditations, again on this laughing Buddha, who is called the Budai (Chinese) or Hotei (Japanese). He is not the founding (or Gautama) Buddha, but the one who is to come.
So finally, I had to ask him about the smiling Buddha. He told me that the Chinese do not focus on his laughing smile or fat belly, but on the calico bag he is carrying. It never empties. This bag carries:
• rice plants, for future food
• candy for children, for current joy
• food, to feed those that are hungry
• the woes of the world
He does that for me. Many believe that rubbing his belly brings happiness. I picture his face with his ears covered. "Lol ... It's none of my business what you think of me," he says to me.
The monk went on to describe how this image has helped people in utter poverty (for example, in Malaysia and Thailand) to feel their poverty in contrast to this Buddha. He also pointed out that the Buddha can inspire new eyes, new ways of seeing. What are the elements of joy right now in my situation?
I felt a chill. Here is The Point of Power in this ancient religion or philosophy. Right now is the point of power because it is the only moment in which I can see or act upon possibilities. Think about the last time you were upset. What was upsetting you? Really? Was there something standing in front of you piercing an arrow into your eye? Probably not. So then who was really causing you the pain that you were feeling?
It was you. Right? And who is you? We are taught by the world that we are what we do, what we own, what we look like. Yes? Well, is that true to you? If so, stop reading.
The monk went on: "Everything I experience today, the Buddha wants me to experience. Do I feel discomfort? Let me feel it fully. Right now. Do I feel embarrassed or lost or angry? The Buddha wants me to experience these feelings as they arise."
Now, I embraced the chill because here was my entire chapter on contrast in a nutshell. This monk was the total opposite of me, and yet we spent the day as though we had been friends forever. Talk about differences.
The reason we enjoy this time? "We experience what is missing in us through another." In the present moment, I or you or a listener can experience contrast. Let's say the present moment has both real poverty and wealth depicted in a Buddha. Perhaps this person is like the peasants in Thailand the monk described. This person would experience real lack and real abundance. This is contrast and it leads to desire: "I want more abundance and less poverty." So I will give to receive. I will listen in order to communicate. I will stand still in order to advance. I will give in order to receive.
Thank you for reading.
private blog on tumblr. cut and paste:
"The Point of Power"
, available now on Amazon. He is also the author of "It's None of My Business What You Think of Me!: If You Want to Change Your Life ... Change the Way You Are Looking at It". His website is peterbaksa.com
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