Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
There is beauty in the words, poetry in the expression, but there is no profundity of meaning. This statement is true only for those who are fast asleep and unconscious. This statement is not true; it simply shows your sleepiness, your unconsciousness.
As far as the unconscious man is concerned, his joy is nothing but his sorrow unmasked because the unconscious man lives in contradictions. His joy and his sorrow are only two sides of the same coin. His laughter and his tears are not intrinsically different, they come from the selfsame well…
In one of the very important statements of Friedrich Nietzsche…and it is well to remember Friedrich Nietzsche at this moment because Kahlil Gibran was impressed by Friedrich Nietzsche more than by anybody else. In fact, he wrote the book The Prophet under the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spake Zarathustra.
Friedrich Nietzsche, in Zarathustra, says: “I laugh because I am afraid if I don’t laugh, I may start weeping. My laughter is nothing but a strategy to hide my tears.”
Have you observed that people who are very fat seem to be always more smiling, happy, joyous? What could be the reason? Fatness cannot create joy. But the reason is, the fat person goes on becoming more and more ugly and his eyes are full of tears. He knows his ugliness, he knows that he has missed the opportunity to be beautiful. To hide the fact he smiles more, laughs more, appears always joyful. He may not be aware of the phenomenon because whatever unconscious people are doing, they don’t know why they are doing it.
Just to emphasize the fact, I would like to remind you that Jews have the best and the most beautiful jokes in the world. And they are the people who have suffered the most. I have been in search for years to find a single Indian joke but I have not been successful; all the jokes are borrowed from somewhere else. Their origins are not India. Most of them come from the Jews.
It looks very strange: the race that has suffered so much for almost four thousand years, has been tortured in every possible way, has lived without a country, has been butchered, massacred, in millions, and yet they have the most refined jokes. The psychology behind it is that they want to hide their wounds. They want to forget their misery, their torture.
I have heard from one of my sannyasins who was in one of Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps in Germany. The war ended, and just by chance he survived. He told me that he is not a Jew. But when there are millions of people burned in gas chambers, who cares who you are? He used to live with a Jewish family, and he was also caught. He denied that he was a Jew, but who was there to listen?