Osho on Laughter
IS IT ALL A JOKE? BUT I DON’T GET IT.
Vimalkirti, it certainly is a joke, but you cannot get it. You are German, and not only an ordinary German — you are the great-grandchild of the German emperor! Just think of the old man in his grave: he must be tossing and turning, seeing you in orange, cleaning floors in Poona! What do you think? — is it not a joke? Could your great-grandfather ever have imagined or dreamed that this was going to happen to his own children one day? Impossible that he would have ever dreamed about it — but it has happened.
You have been told for centuries that life is a serious affair; it has become a deep conditioning. Otherwise life is really a joke. It is playfulness, it is LEELA. It all depends on how you take it. If you take it seriously it becomes serious, but then you suffer — you suffer from your own idea. Life becomes heavy, it becomes a weight, a mountain on your chest; you are crushed underneath it. Life loses all joy, all laughter. You simply drag, you don’t live. How can one live without laughter? It is man who is the only animal on earth who knows how to laugh. Laughter is the only thing that is special to human beings, not reason but laughter.
Animals can also reason — they reason in their own way — but they cannot joke, they cannot laugh, they cannot see the humorous side; that is impossible for them. All animals are serious people and all serious people are animals! The moment you get rid of your seriousness you get rid of your animality.
Hence I have no respect for your saints. They are very serious, far more serious than the donkeys, far more serious than the buffaloes. They have fallen, they have not risen. Your saints are serious, your politicians are serious, your revolutionaries are serious, your scientists are serious. They are all taking life as if somehow one has to pass through it — not dance. The very concept of dance is far away from them. They cannot even walk, they drag. They don’t live, they only slowly die. They are all waiting for death to relieve them of the pain and the suffering of life. It is very rare to find a human being who has not contemplated committing suicide once or twice. On average, four times in his life every human being thinks of committing suicide. He does not do it, that is another matter. Maybe he has no guts to do it, maybe he is afraid of what is going to happen after death. Who knows? It may be far worse than life itself. At least life is known, familiar; it is risky to move into the unknown.
Indians don’t commit suicide much because they believe that they will be sent back again, so what is the point? — millions of times you have to be born. All Indian religions seek and search not for God, remember, but for freedom from life, freedom from the circle of birth and death. How can these people rejoice and how can these people be thankful to God? They are complaining and their complaining is very loud. They are saying, “We don’t want to be born. We never wanted to be born. Why didn’t you ask us first? It is unfair! It is not a gift, it is unfair to send us into a life which we had never asked for. And it is unfair to go on sending us into a life which is nothing but misery.” But
life is not misery. It is our approach, it is our way of looking at it that has made it ugly. Our vision is distorted, not life itself. Our mirror is distorted, not life itself. Because our mirror is distorted, life appears distorted.
Vimalkirti, to me it is all a joke. And I am not joking — I am really serious about it!
You say, “But I don’t get it.”
I have heard that in Germany people are not allowed to tell jokes on Saturday evenings. Why? — because they might burst out laughing in church on Sunday morning. It takes time for them to understand! And you are the great-grandchild of the German emperor, it may take a little longer for you! But if you are here you are bound to get it. Don’t be worried. Life is so full of hilarious moments that it is almost impossible to miss them. It is a miracle how people go on missing them; otherwise you will come across jokes everywhere.
When Winston Churchill was appointed prime minister for the first time — he was tired from the election campaign and all the politics that had gone before and all the struggle to reach the top — his wife thought it would be good to call a friend who knew many beautiful jokes so he could tell a few jokes to Winston Churchill. “That will relax him, help him to laugh a little. He has been so serious for so many days and he looks so tired.”
The friend was called; he came with all the latest jokes. He asked Winston Churchill, “Would you like to know the latest jokes?”
Churchill looked at him and said, “Please, no more — I have appointed them all in my cabinet!”
If you look around, if you are watchful enough, then you are bound to stumble again into something so beautiful and so ridiculous. The very idea of creating the world and creating you all is such a cosmic joke! God must have a sense of humor.
An old rabbi was dying and somebody asked him… because they were afraid for the old rabbi. He was not very religious, not very virtuous; in fact, he was just the opposite. They were worried. They asked him, “Are you ready to meet God?”
He opened his eyes and said, “Yes, that’s what I am doing — I am just trying to remember a few beautiful jokes to tell him. He must be getting tired of all those long faces, sad saints. He will really enjoy a few jokes, a few gossips about the earth.” And I absolutely agree with this old rabbi. If you meet God, don’t fall on your knees and start praying — he is tired of all that! Tell him a beautiful joke. That will be a deeper communion with him. Let him have a good laugh. In that laughter there will be a revelation…
My approach towards life is that of laughter. And laughter contains love, laughter contains joy and laughter contains gratitude. Laughter contains a tremendous thankfulness towards God. When you are really in deep belly laughter, your ego disappears. It happens very rarely in any other activity, but in laughter it is bound to happen. If the laughter is total the ego cannot exist; nothing kills the ego like laughter. That’s why all egoists are serious. Ego can exist only in seriousness; ego lives, feeds on seriousness. And serious people are dangerous people. We have to destroy all kinds of seriousness in the world. Temples should be full of laughter and song and dance and celebration. That’s how trees are, stars are, rivers are, oceans are. The whole existence, except man, is in a nonserious state; only man seems to be very serious.
No child is born serious, remember, but we destroy the innocence of the child. We destroy his qualities of wonder and awe, we destroy his laughter, we destroy everything that is beautiful and valuable, and instead we give him a load to carry on his head — of knowledge, of theology, of philosophy. The more and more he becomes educated by us, the more and more he loses all sense of humor. He can’t see any humor in existence because he starts living through his knowledge; he knows everything. Because of his knowledgeability all wonder is destroyed. Because of his knowledgeability, the greatest religious quality — awe — is killed.
A young man at college, named Breeze,
weighed down by B.A.s and M.D.s,
collapsed from the strain;
said his doctor, “It’s plain
you are killing yourself by degrees!”
By the time you come back from the university you are almost dead. Your state is pathological. You are ill — ill with knowledge, suffocated by knowledge. And you cannot laugh; that is only for children and madmen. And my whole effort here, Vimalkirti, is to make you both simultaneously: to make you childlike and to make you utterly mad. If these two things happen, then only are you a sannyasin.
My only commandment is laughter!… and everything else will follow. If you can love and if you can laugh, totally, wholeheartedly, your life will become such a bliss and a benediction, not only to yourself but to everyone else. You will be a blessing to the world.
You have to drop all seriousness. You have to drop this seriousness because it has been forced upon you; this is not your nature. You did not come serious into the world, you came laughing. Each child is bubbling with joy and by the time he is four he starts dying. The age of four for the boys and the age of three for the girls is the time when death starts occurring. Girls are always ahead of boys in every way; even in this matter they are one year ahead. And once death settles in you, it kills you slowly slowly. It is not that you die suddenly when you are seventy or eighty; that is only the completion of a process that started at the age of three or four. Have you ever noticed the fact that if you try to remember backwards you cannot pass the barrier of the age of three? At the most you can remember when you were three years old; beyond that all is blank. Why? You were here, certainly, and those three years were not blank at all; in fact they were more full of experience than any other year of your life is ever going to be. Each moment was full of experiences. You were constantly exploring life, people, everything; you were constantly in inquiry.
In one university they were doing an experiment. The experiment was… that children seem to be so active — from where do they get so much energy? Their bodies are so small and their bodies are so delicate — they are just like flowers, fragile — but they seem to be so energetic, so vital, so overflowing with energy. From where do they get so much energy? So they tried an experiment. They arranged that a very strong man would follow a child, and he would do exactly whatsoever the child was doing. And they were going to pay him; whatsoever he wanted they were going to pay him. He was a really big man, a wrestler, a famous wrestler, so he was not worried about following a child. What can a child do? But within four hours he was flat on the ground, because once the child knew that he was imitating him, the child jumped and the child ran and the child rolled on the floor and the child laughed uproariously…. And the child did so many things that the wrestler, within four hours, was finished!
He said, “Never in my life have I been so tired. I have been fighting my whole life, I have fought great fights, I have been always a winner. This is my first defeat!”
And that small child was not tired at all; he was still ready, he was still challenging the man. He said, “Come on! Let us have a little more fun! Are you finished? Why are you lying down on the ground?”
Every child is born with such great energy, but we destroy it. We paralyze every child, we cripple every child. And our churches and our temples and our priests have done the greatest wrong to humanity. They are the greatest criminals in the world, they are the real sinners. They have sinned against humanity — they have paralyzed every human being. You don’t know who you would have been if you had been allowed total freedom from the very beginning — if your laughter had been free, your love had been free, your joy had been free, and you had not been hindered, interfered with, distorted, manipulated, forced, channeled in certain directions….
No child is interested in money, because no child is foolish. No child is interested in being the president of a country or the prime minister, because no child is so stupid. His interests are far more natural. He is interested in the flowers, he is interested in the butterflies, he is interested in the pebbles on the seashore. He is interested in dancing under the stars, in dancing in the sun, in dancing in the wind. He is interested in climbing the tree or in climbing the mountain. He is interested in swimming the river or in going into the ocean. His interests are totally different, but we divert all his energies. We say, “No need to climb the tree, no need to climb the mountain. Climb the ladder of success!” — which is an absolutely mediocre process, which is an absolutely unintelligent process. “Climb the ladder of success. Be more rich than others. Be competitive. Be jealous. Be possessive. Fight!” — a fight for things which are meaningless. Then you lose your joy, then you lose your laughter. Then life seems more like a nightmare than like a beautiful joke.
Vimalkirti, it is a cosmic joke. And
my vision is that the future religiousness is bound to be rooted more in life than in death, more in laughter than in sadness, more in dance than in dragging your life.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 11
Chapter title: Laughter: love, joy, gratitude
18 April 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Laughter, love, gratitude, thankfulness, dance, celebration, freedom’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Bird on the Wing
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11
- From Death to Deathlessness
- From Bondage to Freedom
- The Path of the Mystic
- Sat Chit Anand
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose
- Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Invitation
- The Osho Upanishad
- The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
- Sermons in Stones