Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America with observe statues of a
stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy
Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.
This Hotei lived in the T'ang dynasty. He had no desire to call
himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples about him. Instead he
walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy,
fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around
him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.
Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: "Give
me one penny." And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach
others, again he would reply: "Give me one penny."
Once he was about his play-work another Zen master happened along and
inquired: "What is the significance of Zen?"
Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.
"Then," asked the other, "what is the actualization of Zen?"
At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and
continued on his way.