Someone told me that to rub the tummy of a Buddha brings you good fortune. I don’t actually have a Buddha myself, maybe because I was raised Presbyterian. I discovered when cleaning clients homes that most of them have a Buddha here or there. I thought, I could do with some good fortune, it must be working for these ladies if they can pay for me to come and clean. So every visit at a house that had a Buddha I would rub the Buddha’s tummy. Eventually, I thought I could buy myself my own Buddha. I like the symbolism of the Buddha and the gentle nature of the Buddhist faith – no fire and brimstone and I enjoy the benefits of practising yoga. So I was going on an errand to the post office and went past a couple of my favourite op shops. I had a look and I found two Buddhas but they were wall plaques just of his head, so I would have to keep looking.
A couple of days later I read that Buddhists find it insulting that people rub the Buddha’s tummy. It is folklore that says the Budai’s tummy brings you good fortune. The Budai was an eccentric Chinese Chan monk, born during the Later Liang dynasty, who was poor but happy and loving. The Chinese people affectionately call him “The Laughing Buddha”. Often he is identified as an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha.
I thought, all those tummies I’ve rubbed and I’ve probably insulted people. I’d better find out what the statues are. First house I went to – Budai doorstop laughing as I entered. Phew, I gave his tummy a rub and went in. Next house, where’s that statue? There you are on the top of the bookcase – red Budai laughing down at me. I rubbed his tummy for good measure. So far all the houses have had Budai statues, just one to go. I hope it’s a Budai.
My search continues for my own Budai and I can polish up his belly whenever I feel like it. He is such a happy looking character, I can see why he is displayed in so many homes. He makes me laugh and if the legend isn’t true, then I guess that’s why he’s laughing at me.