"The essential quality of mind, our own and everyone elses, is fully awakened wisdom and compassion. This brilliant wisdom is temporarily obscured by a confused ordinary state of mind but not stained or damaged. Therefore understanding this "Buddha Nature" mind gives us tremendous confidence and freedom." Hotei is the happiness Buddha. He's the one with the arms over his head, laughing and carrying large fishes and santa-like sacks full of enlightenment. When Miles was born we called him the little Buddha because he, like every other baby allowed to express itself unendangered, has a golden quality you notice right away. Babies are so honest. They cry when they're sad or frustrated, they laugh when smiled at. They are afraid of big scary things that move too quickly near them and booming voices. I am not a Buddhist, but I am inspired by the text and some of the concepts. I think a lot on the "confused state of mind". I definitely feel that I am confused most of the time. And I think that mostly it is human nature to not be wise, but to be caught up in poor communication and fear which is why I so often find myself eroding my time resolving dillemmas and overanalyzing feelings and situations. When I feel my most enlightened is when I care the least about everything! For example, I put a lot of stock into the Chakra system, the idea that the trunk and head of one's body contains energy centers that tell us about ourselves and our health. I also think about the collective unconscious-especially that of typical American society. Just coming off of the heels of the holidays and flinging the door open on the New Year is when all of this information comes together in my head. I will get to my point eventually... This materialism we experience at the holidays sometimes leaves me feeling very unBuddhalike. I feel hungover when January begins- from spending, consuming and generally forgetting what is really important to me. So here is my point: If the root chakra is associated with things like safety, security, instinct, pleasure, fight or flight behaviors, then this is the one I feel stuck and unbalanced in when I am unhappy. It is earthly and materialistic in some of the worst ways when out of whack. The buzz that comes with overindulging resides right here at the bottom of my torso region. As I glance around at the headlines, I see root-motivated governments, corporate takeovers, etc. Why is it that as a collective, we can't get out of this place- a place of greed and uncompassion and most of all, a place of FEAR. I think I'm combining too many topics here! I store up so many thoughts and ideas I want to discuss on this site and then muddle them all together because I know my baby alarm is going to go off soon! :) I guess I would like to think about it some more and decide if this is true, and maybe ask myself the question of am I guilty of lingering in root issues rather than balancing the other energies, giving them equal time. And what can be done to move past the lower level state of being? I believe I could benefit from lingering in the heart center, the love chakra. It's like the body's Emerald City! Perhaps that is what the New Year and Hotei is all about. I am most happy when I am in love. What I love the most right now is that chubby little man at the top of this rant who has discovered how good his fleshy fingers satisfy his gums. He is my teacher, always. I feel the freedom and confidence seeping in already... Happy New Year.