Hotei is carrying a gourd, a symbol used in Buddhism to represent emptiness, shunyata. Not a negative emptiness, no not at all. My Master would say of shunyata, with a knowing far away smile, “It is the fullest emptiness you will ever know”. And Zen Master Dogen, (somewhere?), says, “Gourd with its tendrils is entwined with gourd.” Pointing to the fact that, in the absolute sense, we are not separate individual beings. No, not at all. Master and disciple, mother and daughter, father and son, inseparable all. Bound together with delicate tendrils, not glue.
This image of Hotei came via email. He is living in the home of a remarkable family who are not unfamiliar with facing hardship, together and individually. And yet, or rather AND, they grow, they shine through and they inspire. They inspire me.
All merit offered to ‘you all’.