Mi Lo Fu Buddha

Mi-Lo Fwo the laughing happy money buddha toby framed oil paintingMi Lo Fu Happy Fat Laughing Money Buddha

People often ask me about the origins of Mi Lo Fu Buddha (布袋 Budai / 笑佛 Laughing Buddha / 胖佛 Fat Buddha / 快乐佛 Happy Buddha / Mi-Lo Fwo / Maitreya) image with my head on it. His nickname was “Cloth Sack” — Budai in Chinese.  It’s actually a large original oil painting by Shanghai artist Yang who was inspired after learning of my trip to Mt. Jiuhua Buddhist Temple.

He painted this and surprised me with it.

I am fat. I have a large belly, and an (almost) bald head. Apparently, I smile and laugh a lot. Put this all together in China, and apparently it means I am the reincarnation of ‘Mi Lo Fu’ – the laughing happy money buddha – he’s also large fat and indescribably happy.

China Rubbing BellyBecause of the apparent similarities between my real body and that of Mi Lo Fu, I often (VERY OFTEN) have my belly rubbed by complete strangers (in elevators, shopping, bars & restaurants) — rubbing the belly apparently is good luck and brings wealth to the person rubbing. When in the south of China particularly, I often get dragged into wedding photos of couples I never met.