Thursday, September 19, 2013

Partying at the "Little Buddha" Club

Amber Larson, CC Liu, Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; HuddsFilm1/ (photography)
Waiting around to enter the Little Buddha club (Huddsfilm1/
Bar's namesake is NOT the Buddha but Hotei
What is there to do in Europe? Not much. Oh, I know! Let's go to the Little Buddha club. Bands play there, suds flow, and we can stand around looking pretty. Dirty Green Vinyl is playing. Maybe I'll meet someone, too.

Who would name a bar, a place explicitly existing to be out of it, after the most sober person in history? Enlightenment is the opposite of delusion, wisdom the opposite of intoxication, right view the opposite of hallucinations. But, hey, why so heavy? It's just a name.

Why is this place called "Little Buddha"?
And anyway it does not refer to the historical Shakyamuni, "Sage of the Shakyas," the warrior prince who abandoned the palace and the good life for a higher calling, the real high life (brahmacarya) that leads out of this misery-fraught wandering on through worlds, lives, torments, and doldrums.

It's like nirvana! I think that's why.
Still, people might think it does. We should protest. We should circulate a petition on Facebook. We should march in front of this hole in the wall. It's bad enough when this kind of thing happens in Thailand.
Now it's made it to the Continent and its economic environs. We can't stand for that. *Yawn* Or maybe we can.

Who is the "Little Buddha" after which the club is named anyhow? There was once a Mahayana monk in China, a Siberian St. Nick/Santa Claus character who carried around a cloth sack filled with candy instead of mushrooms to be handed out to children. He is jolly, jovial, and really chubby. He isn't the Buddha at all, just the good luck Bodhisattva Hotei (Budai, Bố Đại, Pu-Tai, "Cloth Sack").

Yeah, I hear Nirvana played here. What?
He is arguably the "face of Buddhism," obese and golden, full of good fortune, found at the entrance of many good restaurants and Asian businesses. He is more a patron saint of worldly success than any kind of spiritual icon. Nevertheless, one finds him in Pure Land temples and Theravada altars with lots of Chinese or Japanese influence. Hotei is everywhere in Asia. Who doesn't need a belly to rub for luck?

That's not "the Buddha"!
Bố Đại: the fat, happy Laughing Buddha
Hotei (Japanese), Budai or Pu-Tai (Chinese, 布袋; Bùdài), Bố Đại in Vietnamese, is a Chinese folkloric deity also popular with Taoists. His name means "Cloth Sack," and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with (or as a pre-incarnation of) Maitreya the future Buddha -- so much so that the Hotei image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in East Asia. He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese, 笑佛). Sadly, many Westerners confuse Budai with the historical Shakyamuni Buddha Gautama.

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