Nigerians on social media and the viral ‘smiling Buddha’ craze

The practice of Buddhism and the dark story of the laughing Buddha.

The smiling Buddha, currently stirring conversations on Nigerian social media. (Collective Evolution)

After a lady I follow posted the laughing Buddha on her timeline, I also joined the trend around 8:30 pm yesterday evening. Some people laughed, but the deed was done. The major reason why the laughing Buddha is trending is because of the belief that posting such picture, or owning a statue of a laughing Buddha brings good luck or money.

Timelines continue to be clogged with several versions of the smiling Buddha, with some pictures bearing the Buddha with a potbelly.

Like me, a lot of Nigerians have since posted a picture and had testimonies. The larger part of Twitter Nigeria, however, remains cynical, and who knows, maybe they will potentially lose good money. Some have questioned why the entirety of Japan is not rich yet if the laughing Buddha is so effective. Others have more far reaching theories on the matter.

The bulk of young money-loving Nigerians, like myself, have since thrown caution to the wind, to not lose a chance at making good money. ‘Clout’ might be important, but money is importanter and holds the key to the glow up.

Others have even noted how money is more important than, ‘woke approval’ as they post the Buddha. Interesting stuff continues to unfold on Twitter NG.

Aghogho Kwame-Okpu, a Nigerian Lawyer tells Pulse that he thinks there’s a hypocrisy to the virality of the smiling Buddha, especially from those who criticize religion and claim atheism or claim to be agnostic. He feels they are not well-drilled on the truth to how a belief in the metaphysical or supernatural works.

He says, “You know why it’s funny, the same so called “free thinkers” criticize Christians who celebrate a miracle after a spiritual exercise, but are now pining for Buddha. They have lost all their cynicism and intellectual arguments now. I'm not saying miracles depend on that by the way However let the record show that I want everybody to eat. (Laughs)

He is right. Eating from the same thing you so condemn and claim to be above is slightly hypocritical and supports the claims that a lot of self-acclaimed Nigerian atheists and agnostics – especially ones under the age of 40 – have no in-depth understanding of the concept of theism, atheism and non-theism.

Events like this lend credence to theories that, a lot of them only subscribe to the theory of the atheism because it is attractive and against the norm. So, it brings the clout of standing alone. Some of these Nigerians have also claimed that the metaphysical is non-existent and black magic is unrealistic, but have been posting Buddha.

Ibrahim tells Pulse he feels, "Maybe most people don't even realize that the Buddha originates from Buddhism, a religion."

A Twitter user @Yemzine was more damning in his assessment, he writes on his Twitter account, underlying the hypocrisy of claiming to be ‘woke’ and enlightened, only to prove that we are all humans.

He writes, “You're here retweeting Buddha pictures cos you think it would make you start picking money on the streets, but if it were your parents that shared it as a WhatsApp broadcast, y'all (you all) be acting like you're more rational/smarter than them.”

On the other hand, some have also used the event to claim posting - and expecting something from - the Buddha as a Christian is idolatory.

Some have claimed the origin of this theory of a laughing Buddha to be Japanese, but then, Buddhism is a religion practiced by over 500 million people, equivalent to about 7% of the global population. Buddhism is also the world’s fourth largest religion and its origin is cited as ancient India.

Buddhism historically hit Japan from Baekje, Korea around 550 CE. As of 2008, records show that about 34% of the Japanese practice Buddhism and about 60% have a Butsudan (Buddhist shrine) in their homes. Thus, theories of the laughing or smiling Buddha being Japanese might actually not be farfetched.

India’s first successful nuclear bomb test on May 18, 1974 was assigned the codename, ‘smiling Buddha.’ Herein lies the irony, as the sound of ‘nuclear bomb’ simply lacks a happy connotation to the human mind.

Regardless, that has stopped nobody from simply posting the Buddha, and at least, open up the possibility of getting some money into the coffers. But here are some good tweets from the cross-section of the trending topic, ‘Buddha’;

Let it be known, that 12 hours after I posted the Buddha, I got a gift voucher from a company. The value, well, that's one secret I'll never tell. A few others also have good stories.

P.S: I'll probably repost the smiling Buddha when I get off work.

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