Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The History of Laughing Buddha


You are probably pretty familiar with the
image of the big Buddha by now; the boisterous jolly fellow with the large protruding stomach
who carries the name Laughing Buddha and who was in fact the inspiration for our Laughing
Buddha collection. But who was this eccentric man really? THE HISTORY
Originally he was named Hotei (in Japan) or Budai or Pu-Tai (in China) but he is best
known as the Laughing Buddha. In China, people call him the Loving or Friendly
One. His figure is based on an eccentric Chinese
monk who lived over a thousand years ago and who has become a significant and popular symbol
in Buddhist and Shinto culture. Pu-Tai literally translates to “Cloth Sack,”
which is reference to the knapsack that he was carrying with him. Pu-Tai was apparently a very kind, saintly
and generous Zen master. His benevolent character was the reason why
he was identified as the Maitreya, which is the Future Buddha. Furthermore, his generous smile gave him the
nickname “Laughing Buddha.” THE LEGEND
According to an ancient legend the jolly good saint used to go from one town to the other
to fulfill his mission: spreading happiness and joy wherever he went. Pu-Tai was a charismatic character who drew
people like a magnet to his presence. People used to crowd around him and he is
often depicted with happy children. The monk was famous for handing out sweets
and small toys he took from his cloth bag, after which he would put the bag down, stare
up at the sky and start to laugh madly. His laughter proved to be very contagious
indeed and before long all who had gathered around him would start to laugh as well. That would be the signal that his work had
been done, he would pick up the bag and journey to the next village or town. And that was his method of spreading happiness
and enlightenment. THE POWER OF LAUGHTER
Pu-Tai was a man of few words, in fact he hardly ever spoke. On the few occasions that he did speak he
would reply to questions about why he did what he did. He then explained that handing out sweets
was symbolic for the notion that the more you give, the more you receive. His bag represented the problems all people
encounter in life. Instead of clinging to them you should distance
yourself from a problem by putting it down (just like he would put the bag down) and
laugh at it, because whether you laugh or cry the problem is not going to change. The magic lies in the laughter and more precisely
the power of laughter. Pu-Tai believed that the power of laughing
made problems smaller and more easily to handle. And the man had a very good grasp on things
even a thousand years ago, because apparently when you laugh the body produces certain feel
good hormones and enzymes. And when you feel good, you might look at
your problems differently. Pu-Tai lived a life of laughter and even when
he died he pulled the biggest prank of all. When he felt his end coming near, the monk
asked his close companions to immediately burn his body after his death. They were surprised because cremation was
not a custom in Zen buddhism. But his wishes were granted and as soon as
they set fire to his body, fireworks started to fly everywhere. Apparently he had hid a lot of crackers and
rockets in his clothes in order to create laughter even when the matter was grave. A Chinese custom is rubbing the belly of a
laughing buddha statue to bring you good luck, prosperity and happiness. Let us follow in the footsteps of a legendary
monk and always remember his eternal wisdom: whatever happens we always should come back
to laughter, because when you smile at the world, the world smiles back at you!

5 thoughts on “The History of Laughing Buddha

  1. Strangely enough, this guy almost sounds like he was the origins for Santa Claus…? I mean he is this heavyset guy walking around with a bag full of toys and candy for the kids, he’s always laughing kind a like Santa (ho ho ho)…

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