Loving the fat Buddha

Clay statue of fat happy jolly relaxed buddha

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another - physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion. In equating physical beauty with virtue she stripped her mind, bound it and collected self-contempt by the heap.” 

Once upon a time there was a girl who was gifted two Buddhas. One came all the way from Laos, was cast in metal and was a slim, elegant, beautiful figure in a perfect lotus position with the serene smiling/not smiling expression and seemed a very authentic depiction of Zen calm. The other came all the way from a gift shop in Bristol, was cast in clay and was a sprawling, fat bellied, beaming guy who looked like he was too busy having a good time to worry too much about achieving enlightenment. The girl moved house many times in the years that followed and the authentic Buddha came with her wherever she went. He was always there as an aspirational reminder of the serenity she loved and sadly, over time, the serenity that seemed always out of reach. Mr Happy go Lucky got tucked away in a box at her parents' house until such time as the girl settled in to her own home.

After nearly a decade of house ownership the girl's (apparently not quite infinitely) patient Mama suggested that perhaps the boxes of belongings tucked in their house might be missing their owner. Oohing and aahing over forgotten delights the girl found the Buddha and put him to one side to give away, as really, was that fat bellied, lazy looking fellow the kind of icon she wanted to have around? And then the penny dropped. She was lot closer in looks and behaviour to the chubby Buddha and yet when she looked at him she didn't feel an affinity for him or a pleasure in the attainability of his happiness. She honestly felt he wasn't quite doing it right; just like her. She felt that she needed to always strive towards the slim, upright Buddha in order to live well, in order to be beautiful, to do her best. Once it was out in her consciousness she set out to overturn that notion, to learn new ways, to integrate this in her growing focus on feelings and not on appearances. And reader - well you know the happily right now of this story.

That was about a year ago. These days the fat Buddha has a prime position in my bedroom. Central to my morning ablutions. He is a reminder to me that the appearance of something can be misleading. I see such a different picture these days, a happy serenity in his relaxed way, pure joy in his smile. I celebrate his big round belly just as I celebrate mine and I feel approx 746 billion percent calmer, more centred and Zen than I ever did when I only had one Buddha modelling the way and I was fixating on finding the right way to do things. Today I feel his beauty and I feel mine.


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