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Chapter 10: Wisdom and Understanding

When somebody is telling a joke, the joke moves on two levels, that’s how the laughter is created. On one level everything is simple and ordinary, nothing is special, then suddenly there is a turn at the end, the punch line; at the end there is suddenly a turn - you never expected that this was going to happen. That’s why if you have heard the joke it is impossible to laugh again, because then the turn is not there, you already know it. When the sudden turn comes that you never expected, not even a single second before.everything was on plain ground and suddenly you are on Everest and everything has changed, and the change is so ridiculous, illogical, irrational.you explode in laughter. If you understand a joke you understand it immediately, without any effort on your part. It is just like satori or samadhi.

Then there is a second type of laughter. These people understand the joke, but a little time gap is needed. Then it touches only their intellect, not their whole being; their laughter comes, but the laughter is from the lips - an intellectual phenomenon. The first laughter is from the belly, the second laughter just from the head. They understand the point, but intellect always takes time, it doesn’t get a very quick grasp on something. Even the most intelligent person is a little stupid, because the nature of intellect is such that it cannot jump. It moves in logical steps, it needs time, it is a progress, a gradual phenomenon - step by step you reach the conclusion.

That is the second laughter. Pale it will be, not very deep, not very relaxing, not a catharsis, just an intellectual phenomenon. In the head something clicks, creates little ripples, that’s all. But the first laughter is so deep that if it really happens, a joke can become a satori. In that laughter the mind can disappear completely.

Then there is a third kind of laughter - people who laugh because others are laughing. They have not understood, but not to be thought stupid because they have not understood, they laugh, lastly. Seeing that everybody is laughing, they have to laugh.

Mulla Nasruddin went to France once. His wife was with him and they went to see a comic show. The wife was surprised, because whenever the man, the joker on the stage, would tell a joke or do something, Mulla would laugh so loudly that he would defeat the whole audience. People would start looking at him.

The wife couldn’t understand because she knew well that he didn’t understand French. So she asked, “Mulla, I have lived with you for thirty years and I never knew that you know French. How do you understand? And why do you laugh so loudly?”

Mulla said, “I trust the man. He must be saying something funny and when one has to laugh, why laugh last? Why not laugh first? And when one has to laugh, one should laugh loudly. It costs nothing and I am enjoying myself.”

This is the third kind of laughter - nothing is happening to you, it is a pretension. You think that there must have been something humorous, you trust the man or you trust other people who are laughing and not to feel stupid you join in the laughter.

Whenever a joke is told you can immediately sort out these three kinds of laughter.