Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Old Guy in the Garden

He sits in a sunny alcove in the garden under a canopy of old rose and buckthorn leaves. Birds serenade him in early morning, and rabbits visit him at nightfall. Bumbles and dragonflies buzz around him, spiders knit him into their webs, and sometimes butterflies land on him. There is a steady rain of maple keys, leaf dust and pine needles from the trees over his head.

Our Hotei looks as though he is carved from stone, but he is actually constructed of polyresin and weighs only a pound or so. I discovered him in the window of a thrift shop years ago, purchased him for a dollar and carried him home where he now presides over a leafy enclave in the garden from early April until late October. A bigger Buddha lives in a corner of the sun deck, and he will stay there until I am able to pick him up without dropping him. This Hotei is not alone though - a polyresin crane in a fetching shade of blue lives nearby.

Often called the "Laughing Buddha", the original Hotei was a wandering 10th-century Chinese Buddhist monk thought to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha still to come. In Asian cultures, he represents abundance and contentment. He is the protector of children, and for some strange reason, also the patron of bartenders. On his back is a bottomless sack of food, drink and coins which he shares with those in need, and his name actually means "Cloth Sack" in Chinese. Sometimes he holds a fan with the power to grant wishes, and he is usually holding a mala (Buddhist rosary). Our Hotei doesn't have a fan, but he is holding a mala in one hand, and he seems to be reciting a mantra. One of these days, I would like to find a statue of Kuan Yin for the garden too.

No matter what kind of day I am having, Hotei's grin makes me smile, and that is something beyond price, thrift shop origins or no.


Barbara Rogers said...

Isn't there some kind of tradition of rubbing his belly for good luck? Maybe the wrong Buddha, but I also grin when I see him, and ffeel very blessed. Doubly so today with double photos. Yes, I'd like a Quan Yin around as well. She's so beautiful and calming.

Tabor said...

We have a gaja mahda at our front door. But carved from volcanic rock...so very heavy and will only be moved if we move or die.