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The Joker Buddha

Maitreya, the Laughing Buddha, at the Kuan Yin Buddhist Temple in Richmond. Photo by David Lansing.

Laura and I pass by stands selling fresh berries and corn and other produce and then all of a sudden in the middle of this farmland there’s a Sunni mosque and then a temple for Sikhs followed by a Krishna center, Jewish synagogue, and several churches. We are on the Highway to Heaven, on our way to the Kuan Yin Temple, one of the most authentic Chinese Buddhist temples in North America.

We walk through the temple’s classical gardens where lotus flowers float in a jade-colored pond surrounded by elegant bonsai trees, all meant to recreate Deer Park where the Buddha Sakyamuni delivered the first sermon to his five disciples thousands of years ago.

And there in a courtyard shaded by fragrant cedar trees is my old friend the Laughing Buddha. Except this Laughing Buddha, unlike the one I wrote about on Tuesday that I saw in the Ten Fu tea shop in the Aberdeen Centre, is a little creepy looking. His white face and lipsticked lips make him look like Heath Ledger’s The Joker from the second Batman movie. Which is too bad. Because the Laughing Buddha is supposed to be a good guy. They say that he will be reborn after the degeneration of times and will succeed Gautama Buddha and help people realize their goodness and compassion. But I don’t know. I’m not feeling that way about this particular Joker Buddha.

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