Re: The Truth About the Fat Buddha

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Posted by Ring ( on April 25, 2000 at 18:49:54:

In Reply to: The Truth About posted by Rochelle on April 25, 2000 at 13:01:37:

: The "fat buddha" is Hotei, and he is considered a buddha to the chinese. In China, Hotei is the god of good fortune and the guardian of children. His overly round shape indicates abundance of inner wealth and a joy-filled soul. In fact, he was a real person- Ch'i tz'u, a 10th century Zen monk who wandered throughout China giving generously from his never empty sack. Only at the time of his death did he reveal his true identity as the incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. That is the story as I know it. No, he is not THE Buddha as believed by most westerns, thus the "why do you worship a fat guy?" comments we receive. The real Buddha, especially around the time he became enlightened, was VERY thin. Total opposite. Hotei has become a cultural icon, and has lost alot of his true identity because of this. But Hotei is very much connected to Buddhism.
More Stuff about the fat guy :)

The Buddhist Monastery is esteemed as a sacred and solemn place. Yet one may often find the images of Maitreya Buddha-stomach laid bare sitting cross-legged, corpulent in the waist, and laughing with mouth open. His countenance is kind and mild, and everyone who sees it cannot help bursting into laughter.
Maitreya was born into a Brahman family in Southern India. His family name was Maitreya
and his given name was Ajita. He had propagated the Dharma under the guide of Sakyamuni Buddha. After much religious mortification and austerity, he eventually achieved his goal of Buddhahood.
According to the Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya is only second to Sakyamuni Tathagata in seniority and is the fifth of the 1000 Buddhas in the present kalpa.
He was born in 500 BC and assisted Sakyamuni Buddha in spreading the Dharma. After staying in the Tushita heaven for 4000 Buddhist years (5.67 billion years), when his experiences of causality were exhausted, he was liberated from the "Threefold World", and attained enlightenment while sitting beneath the Long Hua tree.
In archaic Indian language, Maitreya means "The Compassionate One", and Adjita means "Invincible to All" or "Leading in Constant Victory". It is said that his most well-known Dharma is the "Insight of Tender Heart". He was always seen smiling ear to ear when preaching the Dharma, thus winning the hearts of his audience. Devotees also call him the "Future Buddha".
The smile of Maitreya Buddha is believed to be the most mysterious. When viewed from different angles at the same place and time, the facial expression could be perceived differently according to the mood of the worshipper. It may appear to smile, to chuckle, to chortle, to sneer, to snigger or even to smirk!
Many temples today enshrine the statue of Maitreya Buddha, flanked by a couplet which reads:"His belly so huge so as to accommodate everything unbearable;His mouth so wide-open so as to laugh at everything ridiculous.
His proper Chinese name is Mi Le Fo, which means the same as Maitreya.
During the Liang Dynasty of the 5 Dynasties period, there arose a eminent monk, a Monk with a Cloth Bag at Fenghua in Mingzhou (now in Zhejiang). With a forehead full of wrinkles and a big belly, he was always contented with whatever situation he was put in even if it meant having no permanent place to sleep or dwell. He often carried a bag and mat with him.
Wandering around for alms with a stick in his hand, he could be heard reciting a verse he composed:
With a bowl for a meal in thousands
of household, I travel thousands of
miles alone.
Seeing a few people who eye me in
I ask the white clouds for the way.

During the winter, he slept in a heap of snow but the snow never moistened his body. Moreover he could foresee disaster or fortune. He could predict the weather. If he went to sleep on a bridge or on the street, one could expecr good weather. On the other hand, if he wore sandals and looked for shelter, one could on rain.
No one knew his background, neither did any one know his name or hometown. However he called himself Qi Ci, and was nicked named Chang DingZi. People noticed that no matter where he went he always carried a bag with him. So they called him the Monk with a Cloth Bag.
The Monk with a Cloth Bag never gave a thought to his appearance. However, he knew the proper time to chortle or laugh, to be angry or chide, to be humorous or stern. He always spoke wittily. He has written a song singing:
The right and the wrong, the hated
or the loved are so numerous in the
Who can give careful considerations
to all that I do?
Easing one's mind with tolerance.
Freely being open-minded and not
seeking to influence others.
At ease with an acquintance on the
first meeting,
Living peacefully with an enemy
even in confrontion.
One who can give up everything in
the mind would certainly attain the
six Paramitas.
And again he continued to sing:
Just because the mind is Buddha,
it is the most intelligent in all the
One may seek the best use of this
miserable life.
Yet everything is unreal all is
in the mind.
Hidden in these songs are the profound teachings of Buddha.
It was the third year of Zhen Ming (AD 917) during the reign of Emperor Mu during the Liao dynasty. With his death drawing near, Qi Ci
sat on a huge stone on the east of the Yueling Monastery in Fenghua and recited:
Maitreya, truly Maitreya,
Countless times reborn,
From time to time appearing among
But unrecognised by the people of
the time.
Then he calmly breathed his last.
It is said that not long after, someone happened to see him with the a bag on his back in another place, going around for alms. Therefore, people took him as the incarnation of Maitreya Buddha. They painted his portrait and it was circulated widely. The image of the Maitreya Buddha sculptured with a huge belly in later years is said to be moulded in accordance with his appearance.
Hope this has been useful. I have a bit of knowledge of other Buddhas as well. Feel free to ask and I will try my best to find the answers for you.

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