In a small office, the boss was telling some old stale anecdote, which he had told many times. And everybody was laughing – one has to laugh! They were all bored by it, but the boss is the boss, and when the boss tells a joke you have to laugh – it is part of duty. Just one woman typist was not laughing, was sitting straight, serious. The boss said, “What is the matter with you? Why are you not laughing?”
She said, “I am leaving this month!”
Then there is no point!
Mulla Nasruddin listened very attentively while a stranger told a long story in the coffee-house. But the man spoke so indistinctly and muffed his punch line so badly that the story was not funny at all, and except for the Mulla no one laughed. But the Mulla laughed heartily.
“Why did you laugh, Nasruddin?” I asked him afterwards when the stranger had left.
“I always do,” replied Nasruddin. “If you don’t laugh, there is always the danger of their telling it over again.”
People have their own reasons. Even laughter is businesslike; even laughter is economic, political. Even laughter is not just laughter. All purity is lost. You cannot even laugh in a pure way, in a simple way, childlike. And if you cannot laugh in a pure way, you are losing something tremendously valuable. You are losing your virginity, your purity, your innocence.
Watch a small child; watch his laughter – so profound, comes from the very center. When a child is born, the first social activity that the child learns – or maybe it is not right to say “learns” because he brings it with himself – is smiling…the first social activity. By smiling he becomes part of society. It seems very natural, spontaneous. Other things will come later on. His first spark of being in the world is when he smiles. When a mother sees her child smiling, she becomes tremendously happy – because that smile shows health, that smile shows intelligence, that smile shows that the child is not stupid, not retarded. That smile shows that the child is going to live, love, be happy. The mother is simply thrilled.
Smiling is the first social activity, and should remain the basic social activity. One should go on laughing the whole of one’s life. If you can laugh in all sorts of situations, you will become so capable of encountering them – and that encounter will bring maturity to you. I am not saying don’t weep. In fact, if you cannot laugh, you cannot weep. They go together: they are part of one phenomenon, of being true and authentic.