Does Humor Belong in Buddhism?

Of course! Finding Joy and living life is healthy. Laughter s the best medicine at times. Life maybe suffering, yet the medicine of the Buddha Dharma remind us returns us to a better state of being.

Fun and laughter are also central to the story of Maitreya, A future Buddha, as taught in Mahayana literature. When Buddhism first entered China, several transformations of the Indian teachings took place and one of these changes concerned the role of Maitreya. Maitreya became Mi-Lo-Fu, the Laughing Buddha. In Buddhist art he is often portrayed as a lovable, pot-bellied, figure with jovial features. In Japan he became known as Hotei, and his image can now be found in souvenir shops almost anywhere. Even those who know nothing of Buddhist mythology and folklore may believe that gently rubbing his belly can bring good luck.

With the image of the Laughing Buddha as my point of departure, I would like to explore the part that humor can play in living the spiritual life. I am going to suggest that humor can, in the context of spiritual practice, be used as a kind of upaya, a skillful means, to help us towards enlightenment. Joy and laughter provide us with a wonderful opportunity to challenge the assumed sovereignty of the ego.

From a Buddhist point of view, what we call our sense of ‘ego’ is a social fiction, a fabrication of the mind that is continually reinforced by society and its systems. When we observe ‘it’ closely we soon discover that the ego is actually quite selective and can never be a true reflection of our total conscious experience. Another way of understanding this is to see the ego as a mental engine, a collage of acceptable views, opinions, thoughts and feelings. On careful reflection (through the practice of meditation), what we refer to as ‘I’ or ‘me’ turns out to be nothing more than an imaginary apex of control around which all our thoughts, words and deeds revolve. The aim of Buddhist practice in general, and of methods of meditation in particular, is to help us realize that, in reality, we can open ourselves to life without this illusion of being outside of everything.

I have been involved with Buddhist over 30 and I always run into deeply serious people who take themselves too seriously. Me and a friends would spend time laughing and lampooning some people we would meet. The humor would have meant we would have been fined by the FCC if we where on the radio.

Peter McGraw Phd says:

“Humor appears to help people’s psychological and physical well-being – for example, helping folks cope with stress and adversity. Humor even seems to help people grieve:

I believe they are relevant to the assumption that a Buddhism will have psychological benefits for those who embrace it. This article therefore provides a review of empirical studies of the psychological benefits of humor in order to answer the question whether a belief that embraces humor is likely to have psychological benefits and, if so, what these might be.

Tom Robbins: “Humor has done more for anyone then any Religion.”

Not completely true, but I see what he means. While some religions have scary lessons, Buddhism doesn’t use fear to motivate people. Buddhism is about liberation of the mind.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
The Dharmapada

There are two kinds of happiness, mental happiness and outer happiness. Outer happiness comes through meeting with an external object, and is transitory. Mental happiness comes about through the Nembutsu and positive thought, it is stable and does suffering. One cannot be happy if one does not have mental happiness, no matter how abundant the external sources of outer happiness are, but if one is truly happy in ones mind, then one can unaffected by outer problems.

Of Course the is Sulhavati “The Happy Land” Also, Land of Bliss. Bliss can should contain much laughter.


About Tino Rozzo

Politician-Philosopher. Has several Cookbooks published. Politician, ran for office many times since 2000. Leader American Labor Party and Living Universal Basic Income. Phd in Philosophy Buddhist Studies.
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