Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BUDAI or Gautama BUDDHA?

In Rael's e-book, Intelligent Design, Rael describes his trip to the Planet of Eternal Life where he was privileged to meet the "Great Prophets" of old. Rael first meet the Elohim's so-called messengers at a banquet thrown in his honor. Rael describes a few of the messengers in his Western stereotypical image including the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha:

"I was sitting to the right of the Eloha whom I had met two years earlier, and to the left of the six other Elohim. Facing me sat a young bearded man, very handsome and very slim [Jesus?]. He wore a mysterious smile and an expression filled with fraternal feeling. To his right was a man with a noble face sporting a black beard that was very thick and very long [Moses?]. To his left was a more corpulent man with an Asian face. He had a shaven head." (p. 161)

Budai, the Laughing Buddha
Shortly after, Yahweh introduced some of the messengers to Rael: "I am referring to Jesus, whom we were able to recreate from a cell that we had preserved before his crucifixion.’ The handsome, bearded young man seated opposite offered me a smile full of fraternity. ‘To his right is Moses, on his left Elijah, and to the left of Jesus sits the one remembered on Earth by the name of Buddha. A little further on you can see Mohammed, in whose writings I am called Allah, because out of respect they did not dare call me by name. The forty men and women present at this meal are all representatives of the religions created after our contacts on Earth." (p. 163)

However, this is case of mis-identification due to ignorance... Gautama Buddha is rarely depicted as being fat with a shaved head. The character that comes the closest to what Rael had described is called Budai or popularly known as the "laughing Buddha" (source: Wikipedia):

Budai (Chinese: 布袋; pinyin: Bùdài), pronounced Hotei in Japanese, Bố Đại in Vietnamese, is a Chinese folkloric deity. His name means "Cloth Sack," and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with (or as an incarnation of) Maitreya Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya Buddha is depicted in East Asia. He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese: 笑佛; pinyin: xiào​fó). Many people confuse Budai with Gautama Buddha.

Budai is traditionally depicted as a fat bald man wearing a robe and wearing or otherwise carrying prayer beads. He carries his few possessions in a cloth sack, being poor but content. He is often depicted entertaining or being followed by adoring children. His figure appears throughout Chinese culture as a representation of contentment. His image graces many temples, restaurants, amulets, and businesses.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
According to Chinese history, Budai was an eccentric Chán monk (Chinese: 禅; pinyin: chán) who lived in China during the Later Liang Dynasty (907–923 CE). He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci (Chinese: 契此; pinyin: qiècǐ; literally "Promise this"). He was considered a man of good and loving character. [..] Amongst those new to Buddhism, or otherwise unfamiliar with its history, Budai is often conflated with (or simply replaces) the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, in spite of the distinct visual differences in how each has been depicted. In India, Nepal, and throughout southeast Asia, Gautama (who lived during the 6th c. BCE) is commonly depicted as being tall and slender in appearance. In contrast, in China and those areas to which Chinese cultural influence spread, the depiction of Budai (who lived during the 10th c. CE) is consistently short and round. Both depictions are the idealized results of the religious, cultural and folkloric traditions which evolved in the centuries after their respective deaths.

This sort of mis-identification casts serious doubts on Rael's fantastic story.

Rael continues to conflate the Buddha with Budai as recent as 25 December 2011 in Contact 378: "But people who have a beautiful Buddha face, you are sure they have love and compassion for themselves. And so, if you all, and I’m sure you all want to have a beautiful Buddha smiling and full of love face. When you have this Buddha face, this smiling face, this happy face, everybody is more beautiful."

Also check out: RAEL: The NON Maitreya

[This note was inspired by Raelian Dotcom]

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