" There are those beings who have vowed not to enter Nirvana until they
have helped all others realize enlightenment. Hotei is this kind of Bodhisattva.
He is one of the Shichi Fukujin, the Seven Japanese Shinto-Gods of Luck. His fat
stomach, which protrudes from the robes he wears, symbolizes the largeness of
his soul. It is also a symbol of happiness, luck, and generosity. His large
elongated earlobes are a sign of wisdom. Hotei as a wandering monk who goes
around and takes the sadness from the people of this world. Just his appearance
has the ability to cheer anyone up from a bad day. His largely exposed,
pot-belly stomach protrudes in front of him as he continues to laugh through
never-ending-time. He is admired for his happiness, plenitude, contentment and
his loving and cheerful character…
and happiness wherever he goes. His whimsical spirit reminds us to always keep
our sense of humor. There is a tradition that if a group of strangers gather
together on New Year’s Eve and ask Hotei for the same gift, provided they truly
believe he will grant it, Hotei will indeed give them what they ask for…."