Understanding is crucial in all human communication. When faced with people who are inflexible in their views, that is the time for you to be at your most flexible and accommodating, and to bring all your wisdom and compassion to bear.

~17th Karmapa, from the website, Just Dharmakitties Quotes


The Buddha was not Fat

The little fat statues that Americans call Buddha are not “The Buddha”. The Buddha people are referring to is usually the Primordial Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha lived in Nepal during the 6th to 4th century B.C..

This was the person who left us the teachings known as the Dharma, and more commonly make up the Buddhist philosophy. The word “Buddha” means “enlightened one”, and there have been many Buddhas all through time.

The Buddha was born in a village called Lumbini, in Nepal, as a prince. Siddhartha’s father was the King of a tribe called the Shakyas. Growing up, Siddhartha was fit and played in the games.

When Siddhartha left the palace, he became an Ascetic and ate only a grain of rice a day. He became so thin his bones could be seen clearly through his skin. After his enlightenment he abandoned the practice of being an Ascetic and primarily taught and lived ‘the middle way’ including eating enough to satisfy hunger, but no more.

Buddha advocated a middle way in your approach to life, part of this is to eat until you are no longer hungry – not until you are full. Combining this with a vegetarian diet and a lifestyle which involved walking about giving his discussions or sermons, it is likely that he was fit and slender not fat.

The little statues we see are of a Chinese monk named Hotei, who was probably another Buddha, known for his kindness and generosity to children. Hotai’s name in Chinese is Budai, and the fat Buddha, or “Laughing Chinaman” statues in many Chinese restaurants adds to the confusion.


One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him.

Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.” “Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”

From 108 Treasures for the Heart: A Guide for Daily Living by Benny Liow


“Kisagotami was married to a banker’s son of considerable wealth. As a young wife, Kisagotami was mistreated by her in-laws, as new brides who moved into their husbands’ home sometimes were. When she gave birth to a son, she finally received an honorable place among her husband’s relatives. But her child died while still a toddler, and Kisagotami, who had never seen death before, went mad.

In her state of insanity, Kisagotami took up the dead child and carried him on her hip from house to house, begging for medicine. One kind old man directed her to the Buddha. The Buddha said, ‘Go and bring a white mustard seed from a house where no one has died.’

Hearing his words, she immediately rushed off in the innocent faith that if she brought a white mustard seed to this enlightened sage, it would be the medicine that could miraculously bring her child back to life. Kisagotami went from house to house, at each house asking, and at each house learning that there too, someone had died.

The truth struck home. Her sanity returned. ‘Little son,’ she said. ‘I thought that death had happened to you alone; but it is not to you alone. It is common to all people.’ Then, still holding the body of her child in her arms, she carried him gently to the forest and left him there.”



“A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came who burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. He took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organised a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him.
Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father’s new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door. The father, still grieving asked: “Who is it?” The child answered, it is me papa, open the door!” But in his agitated state of mind, convinced his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted: “Go away” and continued to cry. After some time, the child left.
Father and son never saw each other again.”
After this story, the Buddha said: “Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.”