Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fat and Happy

As it turns out, the "happy Buddha" is not the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, but rather a Chinese Zen monk who lived around 900 AD. "Buddha" is a title given to the Zen monk because he reached enlightenment.  In Sanskrit, his name is Maitreya, and sometimes he's called Budai, but in Thailand, he's known as Phra Sangkachai. He usually carries a sack, and along with his smile and fat belly, he represents generosity.  I asked the driver about his fat Buddha, and he told me he brings good fortune. Then, I enquired if he ever rubs the Buddha's belly for good luck. He let out a jolly laugh, and when I looked over at my driver, I noticed, for the first time, that he looked a lot like his golden statue.