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Chapter 4: The Dead Man’s Answer

Have you seen a madman laughing? His laughter is totally different from your laughter. Your laughter is reasoned out, there is a reason for it. Somebody has told a joke, somebody has fallen on the street, slipped on a banana peel, and you laugh. There is a reason, something ridiculous has happened. Why do you laugh when a man falls in the street, slipping on a banana peel? Why? What is humorous in it? There is something: the ego is the most ridiculous thing in man, and when a man falls on a banana peel, then even the banana peel is stronger than you. The whole absurdity of the ego is proved, that man is nothing - even a banana peel can throw you off balance.

The whole civilization of man is ego-centered. Whole cultures, nations, all dreams of greatness have come to man because he is the only animal who stands erect on two feet - that’s why man goes on thinking that he is not an animal, he is different, he is unique, he doesn’t belong to the animal world. But when you slip on a banana peel suddenly the erect posture is gone. Suddenly you fall into the animal world, you are a helpless animal, nothing else. That’s why it is ridiculous, seeing a man fall.

And think - if a beggar falls on a banana peel, you will not laugh so much; but if a prime minister falls, you will laugh more. Why? - because a beggar is a beggar; he was already a part of the animal world, nothing much. But this prime minister, the president, the king, the queen - you could never believe that the queen of England could fall just like other human beings. Impossible! They have created a false impression around them that they are infallible. And just a banana peel cracks the whole thing. You are exposed, that you are just a helpless human being. And not only a helpless human being, just an animal - on all fours, not on two legs.

It is ridiculous. You laugh, but there is a reason. Watch a madman laughing - there is no reason in it. That’s why you call him mad. You ask him, “Why are you laughing?” If he can answer the why, then he is not mad. If he cannot answer the why, you say he has gone out of his reason.

When a koan is understood for the first time.not solved, because a koan cannot be solved, a koan is unsolvable, it cannot be solved. There is no way to solve it, it is an impossibility, it is an impasse for the mind - you cannot move any more. Suddenly you are stuck, and the master goes on saying, “Work hard! You are not working hard enough.” And the more you work hard, the more you are stuck, moving nowhere: you cannot go back, you cannot go ahead - stuck. And the master goes on hammering you, “Fast, fast, harder. Work hard!” A moment comes when you are not holding any part of your being, your whole being is involved, and still you are stuck.

Suddenly, when the whole energy is involved, you become aware. And this happens only when you are totally involved, when you have put in everything that you can. Only at that peak, at that climax of energy, do you become aware that this problem is absurd - it cannot be solved. A laughter spreads all over your being, it is a mad laughter. And with that laughter everything changes, is transformed. This is the first thing.

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