The Story of the Happy Buddha:
(This story was written in response to a post by ‘Silent’, a poster on the Unleashed website; Silent was hesitantly suggesting that some Buddhists can be atheists too. Here is my response; I do hope Buddhists will understand my humorous retelling of this story, and that they will not be offended by my little tale)
Silent, your position on Buddhism puts you in the more intellectual Buddhist category. Here’s a little story, and believe it or not it’s true (more or less!):
When Buddha, after many years of sitting and meditating under the Bodhi tree, finally achieved Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment, his followers all kept pestering him, “Master, master, please, PLEASE tell us… Just exactly what IS this Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment?” Buddha just laughed at their folly and their laziness, “Go and find out for yourselves!” he cried.
But his followers then thought their master didn’t love them any more and started to cry… Eventually, after much more persuasion and many, many more tears, Buddha felt compassion for them and finally he relented and said, “Okay, look, what I’ll do is this: We’ll form a church, the Sangha, we’ll call it; and in it I’ll give you all a whole lot of rituals and chants and prayers and meditations; all designed to eventually bring you all to Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment… provided you do everything I say and don’t get any of it wrong!”
“Thank you Master! Oh! Thank you Master!” the followers all cried, and started to shower the Buddha with all kinds of gifts… Day after day they brought their master lots of delicious foods including all manner of cakes and lollies. Many of them even gave him money; even though they were all very, very poor… They were so happy now they had a church which gave them a path to Supreme and Ultimate Enlightenment!
But after a while, as a result of all that extra tucker, the Buddha found that whereas he’d always been a fairly lean sort of bloke, he’d grown remarkably fat as a result of all the extra food. So to get a bit of exercise, he walked off, laughing… all the way to the bank! Then he decided he needed a holiday, so he travelled to China, where the people admired this jolly fat man and his sense of humour so much that they called him the ‘Happy Buddha’.