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Chapter 7: Three Friends

Explanation is like a closed fist. Life is like an open hand. They are totally different. And when the fist is completely closed there is no sky in it, no air in it, no space to breathe. You cannot grab the sky in your closed fist; the fist will miss it. The sky is there, the hand is open, it is available. Explanation is grabbing, closing, defining - life oozes out.

Even laughter is greater than any philosophy. When somebody laughs about life, he understands it. So all those who have really known have laughed. And their laughter can be heard even after centuries. Mahakashyapa laughed looking at Buddha - Buddha was holding a flower in his hand - and Mahakashyapa laughed. His laughter can be heard even now. Those who have ears to hear, they will hear his laughter, just like a river continuously flowing past, through the centuries.

In Zen monasteries in Japan they still ask, disciples still ask the master, “Tell us, Master, why did Mahakashyapa laugh?” And those who are more alert they ask, “Tell us, Master, why is Mahakashyapa still laughing?” Those who are more alert use the present tense, not the past. And it is said that the master will reply only when he feels that you can hear the laughter of Mahakashyapa. If you cannot hear it, nothing can be said to you about it.

Buddhas have always been laughing. You may not have heard them because your doors are closed. You may have looked at a buddha and you may have felt that he is serious, but this seriousness is projected. It is your own seriousness - you have used the buddha as a screen. Hence, Christians say Jesus never laughed. This seems to be absolutely foolish. Jesus must have laughed and he must have laughed so totally that his whole being must have become laughter - but the disciples couldn’t hear it, that is true. They must have remained closed, their own seriousness projected.

They could see Jesus on the cross - because you all live in such suffering that you can only see suffering. Even if they had heard Jesus laughing, they must have omitted it. It was so contradictory to their life, it didn’t fit in. A Jesus laughing doesn’t fit in with you, he becomes a stranger.

But in the East it has been different, and in Zen, in Tao, the laughter reached its peak. It became the polar opposite of philosophy.

A philosopher is serious because he thinks life is a riddle and a solution can be found. He works on life with his mind, and he gets more and more serious. The more he misses life, the more serious and dead he becomes.

Taoists, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, say that if you can laugh, if you can have a belly laughter that comes from the very core of your being, not just on the surface, not painted - if it comes from the deepest center of your being, spreads all over you, overflows to the universe - that laughter will give you the first glimpse of what life is. It is a mystery. For Chuang Tzu such laughter is prayerful, because now you accept life; you don’t hanker for the explanation. How can one find the explanation? We are part of it. How can the part find the explanation for the whole? How can the part look at the whole? How can the part dissect, divide the whole? How can the part go before the whole was there?

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