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Chapter 6: A Thousand and One Ways to Laugh

But Buddhists say that Buddha does not even smile. And Jainas say that Mahavira has no sense of humor, cannot have. All these people are trying to create a certain idea of religiousness which is devoid of laughter. It is as if man’s misery is not enough for them, and they want man to become even more miserable. They tell you, “Carry your cross on your shoulders” - as if your life is not already a cross.

Your conditioning of a wrong approach towards life is why you cannot laugh. But you will have to learn laughter here, because to me laughter is one of the most essential qualities of a religious man. If you cannot laugh you can never be a sage. If you cannot laugh totally, then something is missing in you. Then you have not understood the beauty of existence, you have not understood the mystery of existence.

Bodhidharma laughed for seven days when he became enlightened - nonstop. His friends became very worried; they thought he had gone insane. They asked him, “What is the matter? Why are you laughing?”

He said, “I am laughing because now I see the whole ridiculousness of my search. I have been searching for lives together for the truth, and it has always been within me. What I was searching for was in the seeker himself. I was looking everywhere and it was within me. I was running hither and thither and there was no need to run anywhere. I could have just calmed myself down, and it was mine. It has always been mine. From the very beginning it was within me. It is my innermost being, my very being.

“The seeker is the sought - that’s why I am laughing. I cannot believe how I could remain in such a deception for so long, how I managed to be such a fool. And I am also laughing because I see all around millions of people searching in the same way - searching for bliss, for God, for truth, for nirvana - and all that they are searching and seeking and looking for can be found within themselves. There is no need to go anywhere. There is no need to do anything. Just close your eyes and look within, and the kingdom of God is yours. Hence, I cannot stop laughing.”

The sense of humor is very significant, particularly for my sannyasins, because I am introducing a new kind of religiousness to the world: a non-escapist religiousness, a religiousness which is not against life. I would like you to be Zorba the Greek and Gautam the Buddha together, simultaneously. Less than that won’t do. Zorba represents the earth with all its flowers and greenery and mountains and rivers and oceans. Buddha represents the sky with all its stars and clouds, and the rainbows.

The sky without the earth will be empty. The sky cannot laugh without the earth. The earth without the sky will be dead. Both together - and a dance comes into existence. The earth and the sky dancing together - and there is laughter, there is joy, there is celebration.