Skinny Buddha? Fat Buddha?

Skinny Buddha vs Fat Buddha? Why is Buddha fat? Was Buddha fat? Was Buddha really fat? In fact, was the Buddha fat or thin? What is the difference between the Thin Buddha and the Chubby Buddha? We also have laughing Buddhas and serious Buddhas, so just what is going on?

Let me begin this story of ‘skinny Buddha vs fat Buddha’ with the skinny Buddha.

The skinny Buddha is the historical Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama. Gautama Buddha, also called Shakyamuni Buddha, lived around 600 BC in Lumbini in today’s Nepal, he became a Buddha or the ‘Enlightened One’. He was a spiritual leader according to whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

Prince Siddhartha Gautama left his place and went to live in the wilderness as an ascetic, fasting, and meditating for 6 years seeking the way to defeat life’s adversities (pain, sorrow, suffering, loss, sickness, death, impermanence…). Later he abandoned asceticism and found the ‘Middle Way’, avoiding all extremes (asceticism and hedonism) as the path to Enlightenment.

According to Buddhism, every person has a Buddha-nature and everyone who achieved enlightenment is a Buddha. Also, Bodhisattva is everyone who takes the path towards Awakening or Buddhahood. And what’s more, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can have many different forms. While the historical Buddha is portrayed as a contemplative, serene, peaceful, and skinny Buddha, the Fat Buddha is pictured as open-eyed and laughing. But, who is the Jolly Buddha if not Gautama Siddharta?!

So who is this large, round jolly fellow many people call Buddha? He is known not as the “fat” buddha but The Jolly Buddha.He was a Zen monk called Budai who lived in China around the 10th century, meaning about 1.600 years after the historical Buddha.

Budai was a bold man with a big tummy, a big smile, large ears, wearing a simple robe, prayer beads, and a large sack. The fat Buddhist monk was known as a good-hearted, happy, and content man of humorous personality, jolly nature, and a eccentric lifestyle. Budai was nicknamed the Laughing Buddha because of his big smile and the happiness he was spreading around him. Furthermore, Budai (the Laughing Buddha or the Fat Buddha) became a famous character in Chinese folktales.

This wandering monk wandered from town to town with all his possessions in a cloth sack hanging on his back. People gathered around him because of his funny look and big smile. He especially loved children and children loved him. In Buddhism, children are believed to have the nature of a god as they live in the present moment, often smiling and laughing, with no ego and no judgemental mind. Budai gave kids sweets out of his beg and taught ‘the giving with joy’, and the philosophy of ‘the more you give, the more comes to you’.

Budai is often depicted with a bag he was wearing. Even his name Budai means ‘cloth sack’ in Chinese. But, Budai’s sack has also a symbolic meaning. It symbolizes trouble. And although it is easy to solve the problems of others, it’s never an easy task to solve your own problem. That’s because people get attached to their problems and identify themselves with their problems.

Budai teaches us to ‘keep our begs down’, to detach from our problems, and laugh. In fact, laughter produces enzymes that change the chemistry of our brains. And when you detach from your problems, you can easily find the solution for them.

Budai’s jolly spirit and laughter made people around him laugh too. And while they laughed, they achieved Nirvana. In short, Budai was a Zen master of laughter. Budai in Vietnam is known as Bố Đại. Budai got a significant role in Shintoism in Japan. In Japan Budai is called Hotei and he is one of the ‘seven gods of luck’. Hotei in Shintoism is a god of Contentment, Happiness, Abundance, Good Luck, and a protector of children.  The fatness of Japanese fat Budha portrays an abundance of love, compassion, wisdom, virtue … while the bag of Japanese Hotei symbolizes the bag for feeding poor people and people in need.

‘The statue of the Laughing Buddha acts as a good friend. Whenever we are off the track, his smiling face can bring us back to the present moment, to a positive mood.’ ― Sakshi Chetana, Laughing Buddha

Have you smiled while reading this story about Fat Buddha?! I bet next time when someone asks you ‘Why is Buddah fat?’, you will tell them the story about Happy Buddha with a smile. And Smiling Buddha will bring smiles to their faces as well.

Did you like this Budai vs Buddha story? Did it put a smile on your face? In your case, the mission of Fat Happy Buddha is completed.

Peace and Love, Jim

#skinnybuddha #fatbuddha #thedailybuddha

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