I encounter this familiar figure
several times a week in town
& it bothers me a bit that
almost no one knows who he is.

This statue depicts Ch’i Tz’u,
a tenth century Chinese monk.

He is called Budai or Hotei,
“Cloth Bag” or “Hemp Sack”
in honor of the bundle
he carries with him.

His great belly symbolizes boundlessness.
His great smile symbolizes benevolence.

He stands for the path of limitless
friendship, kindness & goodwill.

Once on the road he was challenged,
“Hey Monk, what is this Zen about?”
And he set his bag down on the ground.

Then he was challenged again,
“So what is the point of that?”
And he picked up his bag & walked on.

Guess what’s in the sack?
Toys & candy for children.

Spiritual nobility is not based upon
wealth or fame, beauty or power.
It is a capacity of consciousness –

We can expand
our sense of self
to embrace others.

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