The Laughing Buddha

This was first published November 20th 2006 soon after I’d returned to Throssel Hole Abbey from Edmonton Canada. The wind can surely wather up on the moors of Northumberland! I believe the letter quoted below is from somebody who still reads here. And glad of that.

Most of the people who came for retreat have gone, the rain is chucking it down and the wind is wathering (as in Wathering Heights).

The monastery was recently given a collection of small Hotei statues and I adopted the majority, with a view to giving them away. Two went with one person to Newcastle and two more will be going to Malaysia tomorrow, I know they will all have good homes. In the East when people have statues they no long want they take them to the temple and it is understood that visitors can choose one and take it home. There is no price you can put on a Buddha statue.

Here is an extract from a letter I received after giving a talk on Hotei a couple of years ago.

Dear Rev. Mugo,
Your talk touched a spot for me that I had been tangling with for some time. I think I need to take more notice of what Hotei teaches, he sounds like my sort of guy. Do you remember sending me a bookmark? Well I put it on my shelf with my collection of little treasures, shells, stones, seedpods etc along with a small statue of Hotei stretching his arms upwards. The words you wrote read, “may you be well and happy”. I have looked at those words and statue many, many times when I have been feeling low, almost with despair and disbelief. When I’d repeated the words in the Litany of the Great Compassionate One “a joy springs up in me” I had practically choked.

Last night I felt quite emotional for various reasons but something leapt in me, that sounds a rather superior way of describing a sort of jerking, yawning and stretching that was yelling YES YES. Looking at Hotei this morning really made me smile from ear to ear and I felt that I had to share this with you and to wish you joy.

In gassho,

I have a feeling that one of the monks, not a million miles away, will have the statue I’m thinking of and I’ll take a photograph and post it.

The merit of this posting is offered to a good friend of the Order who has given of herself unstintingly and who is facing serious health problems at the moment. May you be well and happy.

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