The Laughing Buddha — Reincarnated, Remixed

This story isn’t a simple and short one.  It started in circa 500 BC with the birth of Prince Siddhartha. Most of us know about the journey of this prince who left his luxurious life in quest of existence, to find the root of misery and to discover the root of true, ultimate happiness. But, no one knows what happened years later. History never told us what happened in the 21st century but I think, know a bit.

I was in quest of existence in 2011; sad, restless, and had a plethora of existential questions. There seems to be no answer until one day I met Hemang Chheda in the animation studio I worked for 10 years.

He joined as a Producer in the production department and luckily, or by a divine design, assigned to the same project I was in. At the very first meeting, when I saw him laughing loudly and abusing a team member in the filmy style, I realized that he’s my type of man. Not that I’m gay but because we had things in common—both were seeking.

We connected in a click and a matter of a few days, by divine design, we started to discuss existential issues. I’d philosophical inquiries on many topics and we used to discuss them while eating his delicious homemade tiffin.

His knowledge of various topics was mystic. He always had an opposite perspective but on deep thinking, I found out that it wasn’t opposite rather complementary. My perspective was incomplete without his perspective — we completed each other.

To date, we’re good friends and I’ve done a lot of introspection because of his ideas about ancient wisdom. Both Prince Siddhartha and him were facing existential issues, both started on a journey to explore and both attained enlightenment; in some form, at some time. Prince became Buddha, and Buddha became Hemang, and Hemang became me.

Like the mystic Rumi, he becomes a friend, a philosopher, and a guide at times and at times he becomes my best enemy and critic. And I become his favorite subject and friend, so much that he calls me Shams.

I don’t think an ordinary man can have so many qualities, combinations, enigma, exploration, naughtiness, and madness in today’s time.

This is the same prince who became the great Buddha and set on another journey no one knows about. But I’m sure the journey has continued to date and Hemang is the conduit of Buddha’s unknown, unheard journey of seeking.

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