In the Tang dynasty there was a stout fellow who was
called the Happy Chinaman, or the Laughing Buddha.
This Hotei had no desire to call himself a Zen master, or to
gather disciples around him. Instead he walked the streets
with a sack on his back full of candy, fruit and doughnuts –
which he gave out to the children who gathered and played
Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand
and say: "Give me one penny." And if anyone asked him to
return to the temple to teach others, again he would reply:
"Give me one penny."
Once when he was at his play-work another Zen master
happened to come along and inquired: "What is the significance
of Zen?" Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the
ground in silent answer.
"Then," asked the other, "what is the actualization of
Zen?" at once the happy chinaman swung the sack over
his shoulder and continued on his way.
Laughter is the very essence of religion. Seriousness is
never religious, cannot be religious. Seriousness is of the
ego, part of the very disease. Laughter is egolessness.
Yes, there is a difference between when you laugh and
when a religious man laughs. The difference is that you
laugh always about others – the religious man laughs at
himself, or at the whole ridiculousness of man's being.
Religion cannot be anything other than a celebration of
life. And the serious person becomes handicapped: he
creates barriers. He cannot dance, he cannot sing, he
cannot celebrate. The very dimension of celebration
disappears from his life. He becomes desert-like. And if
you are a desert, you can go on thinking and pretending
that you are religious but you are not.
You may be a sectarian, but not religious. You can be a
Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jain, a Mohammedan, but
you cannot be religious. You believe in something, but you
don't know anything. You believe in theories. A man too
much burdened by theories becomes serious. A man who
is unburdened, has no burden of theories over his being,
The whole play of existence is so beautiful that laughter
can be the only response to it. Only laughter can be the
real prayer, gratitude.
This Hotei is tremendously significant. Rarely has a man
like Hotei walked on the earth. It is unfortunate – more
people should be like Hotei; more temples should be full of
laughter, dancing, singing. If seriousness is lost, nothing is
lost – in fact, one becomes more healthy and whole. But if
laughter is lost, everything is lost. Suddenly you lose the
festivity of your being; you become colorless, monotonous,
in a way dead. Then your energy is not streaming any more.
A Sudden Clash of Thunder, ch. 9
|Bu dai (Chinese)
Calico Bag (English)
(Chinese, means "calico-bag
arhat"); The Laughing
Buddha, The Loving One, The
c. 8-10th century CE
a semi-legendary man, maybe
a Chinese Chan master
or Buddhist arhat, that became
Chinese/Japanese stories as a
always pictured as fat,
laughing, and carrying a bag
filled with rice, sweets, etc.
(hence the name Budai,
"Hotei" in Japanese--'calico
sometimes thought of as the
patron saint of children,
the poor, the weak, etc....
This is the big golden statue
you see in the entrance area
of many Asian
bellied, and laughing.
|oshobob The Living Workshop
|Osho meets China