Chinese New Year Zen
In Chinatowns across the world, one cannot fail to notice the ubiquitous statues of a cheerful rotund figure carrying a hemp sack. The Chinese call him “The Happy Chinaman” or “The Laughing Buddha”. That happy fellow, Pu-tai Ho-shang or “Hemp-bag monk”, was an eccentric Zen beggar priest who lived during the Tang Dynasty. In Japan, he is called Hotei (literally “cloth bag”) and is one of the seven lucky gods. He is supposedly the only member of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods based on an actual person. He is sometimes mistaken for the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. It is believed that rubbing his pot-belly will bring about wealth, good luck and prosperity. He is considered by many as the patron saint of restaurateurs and bartenders.
Although he was a Zen master, he did not wished to be called one nor he wanted any disciples. Instead, he would walk the streets with his linen sack full of candies, fruits, doughnuts and other goodies. He would give those to the poor and needy and to the children who gather around him to play. The streets were his kindergartens.
Whenever he met a Zen devotee, he would extend his hand and say: “Give me a dime.” And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach others, again he would reply: “Give me a dime.”
One day, another Zen master chanced upon him and inquired: “What is the significance of Zen?”
Hotei immediatly plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.
“Then,” asked the other, “what is the actualisation of Zen?”
Immediately, the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.
Anak Malaysia wishes all Chinese “Kong Hee Fatt Choy (Gong Xi Fa Cai)”.
No comments yet.