In Buddhism, Hotei is distinguished from Buddhism's founder, who lived in India in the fifth century B.C. His many names include Shakyamuni, the Buddha, the historical Buddha. Shakyamuni is almost always depicted as slender. You can't tell a Buddha by his belly, but you can tell the Buddha by his lack of one.
Gautama claimed that he did not create the Four Noble Truths (the centerpiece of his philosophy) but that he rediscovered this crucial but forgotten ancient wisdom. Meditation is the vehicle through which we discover and embrace these four truths -- the only metaphysical truths available to us -- which are not simply insights, but prescriptions for being.