Budai, the Happy Buddha: Bringing Happiness into Your Home May 20 2013
Happy Buddha Makes Happy Life
A Happy Buddha, also known as a laughing or smiling Buddha, is a fantastic way to bring a bit of joy to your space, both indoors and outdoors. Here, we will explore the meanings and tradition behind the Happy Buddha, talk about where to buy such figurines, and where to place them. We will also tell you about other Buddhist statues that you may also be interested in.
What is Happy Buddha?
Also known as Budai, the Happy Buddha is a normally girth-y and bald figure who is clothed in a robe. He may be shown sitting or standing on a platform, and is also depicted as being very happy. Usually, this is indicated by a smile, grin, or laugh. Budai are widely spread in Buddhist, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and other Asian cultures. You may have noticed such figures at your local Chinese or Japanese restaurant, as they are often found there, or in temples.
What is the Tradition Behind this Buddhist Statue?
The Budai, whose name is chosen for the cloth sack he carries, is considered a Buddha. Normally, he is associated with the religion as a person who is nearing attainment of Buddahood, or a state of enlightenment. He is known for his generosity because he is said to give poor children candy from his cloth sack, which is also a representation of Zen in the Buddhist belief system. Others say he was also in the business of catching serpents in India to prevent them from harming others who might be nearby. Either way, he is a joyful, kind figure.
A Budai is Not a Depiction of the Buddha
Although considered a Buddha (the Future Buddha), as stated above, the Budai is not the Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama, who founded Buddhism. Instead, he is simply a reminder that one can attain a Zen state and train oneself to be very happy through the Buddhist way of life. Many Westerners may confuse him with other depictions of the actual Buddha. Be careful not to mistake one for the other when making a purchase! There are also many different statues of Gautama available, a subject we will come to in just a moment.
Confusion with Other Figures
In Thailand, there may also be some confusion with the Budai and depictions of the Sangkachai, another monk that is held in high respect for his correct and simple explanation of Dharma. There are a few simple things to look for to distinguish between the statues representing these two figures. The Sangkachai often has a bit of hair on his head, like many depictions of Guatama, and he wears Thai monk robes, not the robes of the Chinese fashion that a Budhai is depicted as wearing. Be sure that you can carefully distinguish between these two figures when purchasing one or the other for your home décor or outdoor space.
Where can I Buy One?
You may be able to find depictions of the Budhai in many different places. If you live in an urban area where there is a large Asian population or nearby an urban center with a large Asian community, you may be able to purchase a variety of Budai in local shops. Look for them in discount stores, Asian stores, even tourist stores that normally cater to outsiders.
However, for some people, this just is not possible. For those people, there are several options. You may travel to a larger urban center where there is a concentration of Asian people, or you may simply order your Budai figure form a retailer online. Many of these retailers also carry other Buddhist statues in addition to Budais, or may also provide certain ceremonial objects for carrying out Buddhist ceremonies. Simply be sure to choose carefully according to product pictures and descriptions to be sure you are actually purchasing a Budai, and not another Buddhist statue or figurine. Although, if you want these other figurines, feel free to order them, as well. They will make a great addition to your collection. Many of these online retailers may offer great shipping policies, special online deals, and more.
Where to Place your Happy Buddha in Your Home
Feel free to place your Happy Buddha anywhere you like in your home. You may decide to have a special place in your home designated just for the figurine, or may surround him with other figurines. The Budai is a perfect way to give any room a distinctively Asian feel. It may even serve as a reminder of personal beliefs or faith. And do not think that the only place for a Budai is in your home! You may also want a few of these jolly figures in your outdoor entertaining areas, gardens, or patios. What a fantastic way to add to your garden if it has an Asian design. It may also serve as a joyful greeting for visitors perched on your front porch, or in your front lawn. Feel free to integrate these figures in your outdoor space along with other Buddhist figures, or dedicate a special place for it somewhere outdoors. Either way, you will find this statue will bring lots of enjoyment, and will serve as a happy reminder to think globally and stay happy.
Other Buddhist Statues
Along with your Budai, you may also be interested in other Buddhist statues for your home or outdoor décor. These may include statues of the actual Buddha (Gautama), or figurines that depict Hindu deities that converted to Buddhism, or Mantra Warriors, which look sterner and seem to be dressed as traditional Asian warriors. Just be sure that the statue you are buying is actually a Buddhist statue, as some retailers and customers may confuse Hindu statues for Buddhist statues. This can be easily avoided if you take note of the Mudras, or placement of the hands and posture, of any of the statues you plan to purchase. There is more information on these statues and Mudras elsewhere on this website.