Start and finish your day with laughter…
I teach you life, I teach you love, I teach you how to sing, how to dance. I teach you how to transform your life into a festival, into a carnival of delight. Hence, laughter has to be one of the most essential qualities. Even if you cry and weep, your tears should have the quality of laughter in them. They should come dancing and singing; they should not be tears of sadness and misery. They should be tears of overflowing cheerfulness, of bliss. This is possible not through scriptures, but only if you look at life. All that is needed is a clarity.
We laugh only when there is some reason which is forcing us to laugh. A joke is told, and you laugh — because a joke creates a certain excitement in you. The whole mechanism of a joke is: the story goes in one direction, and suddenly it takes a turn; the turn is so sudden, so drastic, that you could not have imagined it. Excitement grows and you are waiting for the punchline. And then suddenly, whatsoever you were expecting is never there — something absolutely different, something very absurd and ridiculous, never fulfilling your expectation.
A joke is never logical. If a joke is logical it will lose all its sense of laughter, the quality of laughter, because then you will be able to predict. Then by the time the joke is being said, you will have reached the punchline because it will be a syllogism, it will be simple arithmetic. But then it will not have any laughter. A joke takes a sudden turn, so sudden that it was almost impossible for you to imagine it, to infer it. It takes a jump, a leap, a quantum leap — and that’s why it releases so much laughter. It is a subtle psychological way to tickle you.
I have to tell jokes because I am afraid — you are all religious people. You tend to be serious. I have to tickle you so sometimes you forget your religiousness, you forget all your philosophies, theories, systems, and you fall down to earth. I have to bring you back to the earth again and again, otherwise you will tend to become serious, more and more serious. And seriousness is a canceric growth.
Laughter brings some energy from your inner source to your surface. Energy starts flowing, follows laughter like a shadow. Have you watched it? When you really laugh, for those few moments you are in a deep meditative state. Thinking stops. It is impossible to laugh and think together. They are diametrically opposite: either you can laugh or you can think. If you really laugh, thinking stops. If you are still thinking, laughter will be just so-so, it will be just so-so, lagging behind. It will be a crippled laughter.
When you really laugh, suddenly mind disappears. And the whole Zen methodology is how to get into no-mind — laughter is one of the beautiful doors to get to it.
As far as I know, dancing and laughter are the best, natural, easily approachable doors. If you really dance, thinking stops. You go on and on, you whirl and whirl, and you become a whirlpool — all boundaries, all divisions are lost. You don’t even know where your body ends and where the existence begins. You melt into existence and the existence melts into you; there is an overlapping of boundaries. And if you are really dancing — not managing it but allowing it to manage you, allowing it to possess you — if you are possessed by dance, thinking stops.
The same happens with laughter. If you are possessed by laughter, thinking stops. And if you know a few moments of no-mind, those glimpses will promise you many more rewards that are going to come. You just have to become more and more of the sort, of the quality, of no-mind. More and more, thinking has to be dropped.
Laughter can be a beautiful introduction to a non-thinking state. And the beauty is…. There are methods — for example, you can concentrate on a flame or on a black dot, or you can concentrate on a mantra, but the greater possibility is that by the time the mind is disappearing you will start feeling sleepy, you will fall asleep. Because before the mind disappears there open two alternatives: sleep — sushupti — and samadhi: sleep and satori.
When thinking disappears, these are the two alternatives left: either you move into satori — a fully alert, no-thought state; or a fully asleep, no-thought state — sleep. And sleep is more natural, because you have practised it long. If you live sixty years, twenty years you have been asleep. It is the greatest activity that you have been doing; one third of your life is spent in sleep. In no other exercise do you spend so much time and so much energy.
So if you are doing TM-type meditations, repeating a mantra, by the time the mantra helps you to become non-thinking, immediately sleep will possess you. Hence, I call TM a sort of tranquillizer. And that is the appeal in America for Maharishi and his method, because America is the only country which is suffering from sleeplessness so tremendously. Insomnia has become almost common.
If after forty you have not started suffering from insomnia, that simply means that you are a failure, that you could not succeed — in business, in politics. In power you couldn’t succeed; you are a failure. All successful people suffer from insomnia, have to suffer. They suffer from ulcers, have to suffer. So remember: insomnia, ulcers and things like that are nothing but certificates of success — that you have succeeded.
TM has an appeal for the American mind, because repeating a mantra — monotonous, the same again and again — the mind loses interest in it, starts falling asleep. That’s the beauty of laughter: you cannot fall asleep. Laughing, how can you fall asleep? It brings a state of no-mind and no-thought, and does not allow you to fall asleep.
In a few Zen monasteries, every monk has to start his morning with laughter, and has to end his night with laughter — the first thing and the last thing! You try it. It is very beautiful. It will look a little crazy — mm? — because so many serious people are all around. They will not understand. If you are happy, they always ask why. The question is foolish! If you are sad, they never ask why. They take it for granted — if you are sad, it’s okay. Everybody is sad. What is new in it? Even if you want to tell them, they are not interested because they know all about it, they themselves are sad. So what is the point of telling a long story? — cut it short!
But if you are laughing for no reason, then they become alert — something has gone wrong. This man seems to be a little crazy because only crazy people enjoy laughter; only in madhouses will you find crazy people laughing. This is unfortunate, but this is so.
It will be difficult, if you are a husband or a wife it will be difficult for you to suddenly laugh early in the morning. But try it — it pays tremendously. It is one of the most beautiful moods to get up with, to get out of the bed with. For no reason! because there is no reason. Simply, you are again there, still alive — it is a miracle! It seems ridiculous! Why are you alive? And again the world is there. Your wife is still snoring, and the same room, and the same house. In this constantly changing world — what Hindus call the ‘maya’ — at least for one night nothing has changed? Everything is there: you can hear the milkman and the traffic has started, and the same noises — it is worth laughing for!
One day you will not get into the morning. One day the milkman will knock at the door, the wife will be snoring, but you will not be there. One day, death will come. Before it knocks you down, have a good laugh — while there is time, have a good laugh.
And look at the whole ridiculousness: again the same day starts; you have done the same things again and again for your whole life. Again you will get into your slippers, rush to the bathroom — for what? Brushing your teeth, taking a shower — for what? Where are you going? Getting ready and nowhere to go! Dressing, rushing to the office — for what? Just to do the same thing again tomorrow?
Look at the whole ridiculousness of it — and have a good laugh. Don’t open your eyes. The moment you feel that sleep is gone, first start laughing, then open the eyes — and that will set a trend for the whole day. If you can laugh early in the morning you will laugh the whole day. You have created a chain effect; one thing leads to another. Laughter leads to more laughter.
And almost always I have seen people doing just the wrong thing. From the very early morning they get out of bed complaining, gloomy, sad, depressed, miserable. Then one thing leads to another — and for nothing. And they get angry… it is very bad because it will change your climate for the whole day, it will set a pattern for the whole day.
Zen people are more sane. In their insanity they are saner than you. They start with laughter… and then the whole day you will feel laughter bubbling, welling up. There are so many ridiculous things happening all over! God must be dying of His laughter — down the centuries, for eternity, seeing this ridiculousness of the world. The people that He has created, and all the absurdities — it is really a comedy. He must be laughing.
If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear God also laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing — trees and stones and stars with you.
And the Zen monk goes to sleep in the night again with laughter. The day is over, the drama is closed again — with laughter he says “Goodbye, and if I survive again, tomorrow morning I will greet you again with laughter.”
Try it! Start and finish your day with laughter, and you will see, by and by, in between these two more and more laughter starts happening. And the more laughing you become, the more religious.
from : A Sudden Clash of Thunder Ch. 9