It’s time to put on a smile again.
Even when feeling blue, just smile. It drives the blue away. Give it a try.
I was visiting Haw Par Villa (tourist attraction) in Singapore and this statue caught my eyes. You can click on the link to learn more about this place. Admission is FREEEEEEE!
For thos who are not familiar with Chinese folklore, this place seems like a glitzy plaster artwork park. The artwork will be good for instagram. Try immitating their expression! I used to climb all over the statues when I was a kid, unfortunately they are out of bound now.
ok back to this statue.
In Chinese folklore, this statue represents Maitreya Bodhisattva; The next Buddha to appear in this world after Buddhism had been totally forgotten by mankind.
The name Maitreya means benevolent, friendly, good-will.
In short, Loving Kindness.
According to Chinese folklore, this artwork depicts a respectable monk in ancient China. He had a jovial personality and is full of wit, humor and wisdom. Beloved by the common folks.
However, some people accused him of being a charlatan instead of a monk. That was due to his carefree personality. Loitering around, lying down in the market place, playing with kids, eating meat (not being vegetarian). Didn’t seem to be doing any meditation etc at all. Prefering to spend his time with people in the market place.
He begged for alms in the market place and ate anything that was offered to him. Including meat. Joking with people and dispensing words of wisdom randomly, he sat or lie down anywhere on the streets. He liked to play with children on the streets and was constantly surrounded by children in the market place. Extremely jovial and patient, never getting upset with anything.
He was once heard saying, if your spittle landed on me, nevermind that. I won’t wipe it away too but will let it dry naturally. That way, both are not troubled by it!
Stories of miracles relating to him were many.
In one story, he was seen lying down in the street during a heavy snowstorm. Miraculously, non of the snow seemed to fall on him and when he got up, non of his clothing was touched by snow.
He carried a big bag with him all the time and would ask people for donation in kind. Anything would do. Baskets, yarns, daily sundries, food, anything. He would stuff the supplies and food into his bag. It seemed like the bag had an infinite capacity because no matter the quantity or size of the object donated, everything can be contained.
He was able to foretell the fortune of everyone, warning them of misfortune or congratulating them of a fortune ahead of time.
He preached equanimity and taught people to embrace all matters and situations in life with an open mind. He advised everyone to face the up and downs in life with a positive attitude.
After he passed away, his close disciple found a note from him disclosing his true identity as Maitreya.
Later on, Chinese love to have his statue or image in their home because of his smile!
We believe it will bring joy into the family. The bag symbolize the containment of all calamities. Since he is a bodhisattva, we believe he will take away all our misfortune. Another belief is that, he brings a bag of happiness to the family.
Since he was very popular with children, the Chinese also worship him for the blessings of abundant offsprings.
From a Buddhist perspective, it is his jovial nature of being inclusive, accepting everyone and everything with equanimity that is the most important lesson to us.