Read My Lips: The Buddha Was Not Fat…

By all accounts, Siddartha Gotama aka “the Buddha” or Buddha Shakyamuni, was a fine specimen of a man. With beautiful, curly hair, he was tall and muscular; a slammin’ athlete; and intellectually brilliant. And it was for reasons such as these that Devadatta, the Buddha’s cousin and brother-in-law, spent a good deal of time trying to kill him. But that’s another post…

So, all those big-bellied, bald “buddhas” that many people place on low shelves, fireplace mantles, chains hanging from their rear-view mirrors, and on top of their imagined Christo-Budo altars are not “the Buddha,” at all. These buddhas, often referred to as “Laughing Buddha,” “Happy Buddha,” and even “Fat Buddha” are really replicas of a monk known as Mi Lo Fa, Pu-Tai, or Budai. As to how Budai got that fat…. well, that, too is another post… And yes, it’s possible that somehow, ‘Budai’ got mispronounced or incorrectly translated as ‘Buddha’ (grimace), but translation is not my forte. Adding to the confusion, in some Asian languages, they use the same word for both ‘monk’ and ‘buddha.’

It’s also important to note that “Buddha” is not a first name (given name) or last name (surname). It is a title meaning something like “enlightened one.” And Buddhists believe that Siddartha Gotama was “the” Buddha (with a capital ‘b’) as well as that all people are ‘buddhas’ (even if just potentially so) with a lower case ‘b.’ This is why we have (B)uddhas and (b)uddhas…

Statues of the true Buddha represent him as the slender man he was: he didn’t have “a ride,” and he only ate between the hours of dawn and noon — which is the case, to this very day, with all Buddhist monastics. Additionally, Buddha Shakyamuni (Shakya, refers to his clan, and ‘muni’ means “silent one”) followed his own wardrobe recommendations which stated that only the right shoulder be exposed. So, it is highly unlikely that he, like Budai, went around with his entire chest and looks-like-Alien-Resurrection-about-to-explode belly exposed for all the world to see.

Just sayin’…

Namaste.

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