I can sometimes come off serious in these posts, but I promise you I’m totally not.
I dig Buddhism, and I practice diligently, but I don’t take it seriously because that’d be like anti-Buddhism. It’s hard to see in the dry, repetitive Suttas and the ultra-analytical and psychedelic Sutras, but Buddhadharma comes packaged with a sense of humor.
It’s a quirky, self-effacing, satirical humor that can even lean a bit toward the dark side at times. This is because practice opens us up to the big picture, and the only logical response to seeing ourselves held up in that context, is to laugh.
It’s easy to gauge how healthy your practice is by how often, and how easily, you smile, laugh, and inspire others to do the same. This means a lot more than how long you can meditate, or how many Buddhist texts you have memorized. If you’re laughing, smiling, and sharing that smile—and if you’re not scowling and sharing scowls—than your practice is healthy.
We so often focus on the, “relieving suffering,” part of Buddhism, that we forget the other side of that: introducing joy. We’re practicing so that we can enjoy our lives. What other reason is there?
Humor is part of joy, and humor is a great antidote for clinging. Poking fun at something takes it off its pedestal, brings it back to earth where we can work with it. It gives us a light touch when it comes to studying the teachings, which is great because they’re astonishingly fragile.
Humor can even help us when it comes to sickness, old age, and death. I’ve joked about my death hundreds of times, a few of those time I thought I was literally about to die. Because humor’s a defense mechanism, it’s a way to cope with reality – and reality’s just kind of an asshole at times.
Hell, the Buddha was even kind of an asshole at times. And the early Zen teachers would rather concuss you than converse with you.
I just think it’s important to keep humor alive in our practice, whatever that practice might be. A dash of humor could help anyone of any discipline. Imagine how the Bible would read if there were fart jokes in it? Or maybe, “Hey Jesus! What’re you doing?” “Oh, ya know, just hangin’ around.”
“Hey Buddha, why did you starve yourself thinking it’d end your suffering you dumb idiot?” “I ran out of weed money, and it was the cheapest way to trip balls.”
Anyway, the point is that if you’re gonna take any of this super seriously, then it’s probably best if you just don’t get involved in it, or anything in general really, any religion—not even atheism.
I know we all have this image of monks and sages being stoic, and stone-faced wise people, but that just isn’t the reality. If you search Buddhist Monk in Google images, a huge portion of the pics are of monks smiling and laughing. The other photos are of them meditating or listening to teachings.
We have this idea in the West that Buddhism and Stoicism are alike, but they’re not. The smile is the difference. Buddhism is fun! If it wasn’t, I sure as shit wouldn’t be practicing it.