Over the years, I have been seeing laughing Buddha in many places and I never cared of knowing it’s history. As I had a chance to know the history and significance behind it, I thought I would share with you what they mean as they all have different meanings.
Background information on the laughing Buddha
When westerners think of “Buddha,” usually they don’t visualize the Buddha of history, meditating or teaching. Instead, they visualize a fat, bald, jolly character called “The Laughing Buddha.” Where did he come from?
The celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha. In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One. He is based on an eccentric Chinese Ch’an (Zen) monk who lived over 1,000 years ago and has become a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture. Because of this monk’s benevolent nature, he came to be regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva who will be Maitreya (the Future Buddha). His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation “Laughing Buddha.”
The Laughing Buddha’s image graces many temples, restaurants, and amulets, as he has become a deity of contentment and abundance. The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack (that which never empties) which is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. He is patron of the weak, poor and children.
Laughing Buddha statues depict a stout, smiling or laughing bald man in robes with a largely exposed pot belly stomach, which symbolizes happiness, good luck, and plenitude. Some sculpture has small children at his feet. Another item that is usually seen with the Laughing Buddha figure is a begging bowl to represent his Buddhist nature.
In some scenes the Laughing Buddha may be found sitting on a cart drawn by boys, or wielding a fan called an oogi (said to be a “wish giving” fan — in the distant past, this type of fan was used by the aristocracy to indicate to vassals that their requests would be granted). All of these images display Hotei as a wandering monk who goes around and takes the
sadness from people of this world.
According to legend, if you rub the Laughing Buddha’s great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity. Hotei is also referred to as the patron saint of restaurateurs, fortune tellers and bartenders. When one overeats or over drinks, friends jokingly attribute it to the Laughing Buddha’s influence.
Laughing Buddha is a symbol of joy and wealth. Nowadays everyone, even who are not following the Buddhism and Taoism those are also started to feature the Happy Buddha in their homes and offices. This practice is even grown up in the western countries too. This article is a small try to know about the laughing buddha.
Over the years, the Smiling / Laughing / Fat Buddha has come to represent several beneficial attributes such as happiness, prosperity,contentment and joy. Consequently, people in East Asia such as China and Japan have placed the Fat Buddha statue in their homes and offices.
Tradition or Feng Shui
While Chinese and Japanese tradition merely associates the placement of the Fat Buddha in the home or office with prayers for prosperity and happiness, there is a school of thought known as Feng Shui that also focuses on the actual position of the placement and direction the Fat Buddha statue is facing.
In Feng Shui, the reason for buying and placing figurines or statues in the home is to correct a certain imbalance in your life. The placement of particular figurines in a certain part or direction of the house is meant to bring harmony and order into your life, letting you experience a more peaceful and prosperous life. The amount of benefit achieved by such placements depends on whether the rules of Feng Shui are being followed correctly.
Fundamentals of Feng Shui
Feng Shui (literally “Wind and Water” in Chinese), is all about balance and harmony between us and our environment. Just like the Yin and Yang energies, Feng Shui is about balance. Where there is light, there will always be darkness; where there is fire, there will always be water; and so forth.
Types of Laughing Buddha Statues
The following is a list of Smiling / Laughing / Happy / Fat Buddha statues. These Laughing Buddha statues have been attributed to provide their owners with beneficial effects such as happiness, prosperity, contentment and wealth. As such, many people have purchased various forms of these buddha statues to place in their homes or at their offices and businesses, hoping that they will receive some of these attributes too. You will find a number of these fat buddha statues being the centrepiece of many home decorations.
Buddha’s should never be placed on the floor as this is a sign of disrespect. All About Feng Shui recommends that you place your Buddha at least 4′ from the floor in an elevated position. Treat him with respect and he will reward you handsomely.
However, the location of placing the Laughing Buddha is important. It has to be placed at an height of some 30” approximate and should be facing the main door directly. The Laughing Buddha greets the energies that enter from the main gate and activates them manifold, and turns highly prosperous. If this location is not possible, the next best place to keep the Laughing Buddha is on a side table or a corner table, which is diagonally opposite to the main door and facing the door.
It is not advisable to keep the Laughing Buddha in a bedroom or in the dining room. This God of wealth is not worshipped or prayed to, but just displayed and its presences is purely symbolic and auspicious.