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S/O of a joke earlier.... What role (if any) does humor play in your religion, philosophy, or spiritual beliefs?

I know that humor is often used in Buddhism, but I'm not sure how many other religions really use humor, so I was wondering if anyone else has any favorite jokes or stories you'd like to share. And do you think humor is important?

In Zen Buddhism, humor is often seen as a vehicle for understanding the world—it's helps one reach enlightenment and remove attachments to the world. Laughter can help release tensions, break things down, and even reveal things that cannot be explained. D.T. Suzuki once said, "Zen is the only religion or teaching that finds room for laughter." Not only are there many modern Buddhist jokes, but there is also a lot of humor found in many of the Zen Koans and Buddhist stories. The koan is said to be unparalleled in mysticism because of its tongue-in-cheek humor.

In the 4th century India, Bharata wrote a theatrical treatise which differentiated between different types of laughter.

Sita—highest and noblest form, a faint smile
Hasita—next highest form, a smile which barely reveals the tips of the teeth
Vihasita—an even larger smile accompanied by some laughter
Upahasita—a more pronounced laughter, marked by shaking of the head, shoulders, and arms
Atihasita—uproarious laughter that makes one double over, slap the thighs or roll around

"Blessed is he who finds happiness in his own foolishness. For he will always be happy".
-- Chade Meng

Here are some examples of Buddhist stories and modern (mostly cheesy) jokes:

The other side
One day a young Buddhist on his journey home, came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him , he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher "Oh wise one , can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?
The teacher ponders for a moment  looks up and down the river and yells back "My son, you are on the other side".

Worse than a Clown:
There was a young monk in China who was a very serious practitioner of the Dharma. Once, this monk came across something he did not understand, so he went to ask the master. When the master heard the question, he kept laughing. The master then stood up and walked away, still laughing. The young monk was very disturbed by the master's reaction. For the next 3 days, he could not eat, sleep nor think properly. At the end of 3 days, he went back to the master and told the master how disturbed he had felt.

When the master heard this, he said, "Monk, do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that YOU ARE WORSE THAN A CLOWN!"

The monk was shocked to hear that, "Venerable Sir, how can you say such a thing?! How can I be worse than a clown?"
The master explained, "A clown enjoys seeing people laugh. You? You feel disturbed because another person laughed. Tell me, are you not worse than a clown?"
When the monk heard this, he began to laugh. He was enlightened.

It will pass:
A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"
"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.
A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'
"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

Speak Not:
Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall on the first day,the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said, "Oh, no! The candle is out."
The second monk said, "Aren't we not supposed to talk?"
The third monk said, "Why must you two break the silence?"
The fourth monk laughed and said, "Ha! I'm the only one who didn't speak."

"A monk was driving in India when suddenly a dog crosses the road. The car hit and killed the dog. The monk looked around and seeing a temple, went to knock on the door. A monk opened the door. The first monk said: "I'm terribly sorry, but my karma ran over your dogma."

“A Zen master once said to me, ‘Do the opposite of whatever I tell you.’ So I didn't.”

^^This one came with a warning that thinking about it too long may cause your head to explode. LOL

Q: Why don't Buddhists vacuum in the corners?
A: Because they have no attachments.

Q: What happens when a Buddhist becomes totally absorbed with the computer he is working with?
A: He enters Nerdvana.

A Buddhist approaches a hotdog vendor and says: "Make me one with everything."
The Buddhist gives the vendor $20 and waits.
The vendor doesn't respond so the Buddhist finally says: "Where's my change?"
Says the vendor: "All change must come from within."

If you have some ice cream, I will give it to you.
If you have no ice cream, I will take it away from you.
This is an ice cream koan.

Answer Question

Asked by pam19 at 11:29 PM on Jan. 12, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 30 (42,186 Credits)
Answers (26)
  • Humor is fine just as long as it is not disrespectful or dishonoring.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 12:06 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • Hehe... i like those.
    Disrespectful? the only person who can disrespect your beliefs is you.

    People think what they think, why should everyone share your definition of respect?

    Answer by Piskie at 6:13 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • I think its important to be able to laugh at ourselves and at our faiths, to not be so uptight about our spirituality that we can't find or allow humor a chance. :)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:24 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • I didn't include the stories here, because I already had so many humor examples, but there are many example of Buddhists using self-deprecating humor. It's like an exercise in detachment. Most Buddhists aren't easily offended as that goes against the teachings of Buddhism and it's usually seen as pointless to take offensive words personally.

    I don't care for jokes that are mean, insulting, or put other people down though. I'm generally very analytical and serious, but I think it's good to laugh every day, and sometimes laughter can even help get you through the serious stuff in life. Sometimes I worry about people who seem to take everything so seriously all the time.

    Comment by pam19 (original poster) at 9:38 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • No hard and fast rules about humor in my beliefs.

    It just is what it is and we all have our own individual tastes.

    Personally, I think humor is super important because I think it helps me destress and feel better overall. I love to laugh!

    Answer by Amaranth361 at 9:49 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • i look around everyday, and see God's humor in a lot of things.
    that's all i'm gonna say about that. :))

    Answer by dullscissors at 10:04 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • First, obviously God has a sense of humor ... just look around at some the people around you ... Darwin Awards come to mind.

    Laughter is vital in humans. If you can't laugh or poke fun at yourself or what you believe, then you are not truly living. I agree about the mean-spirited "jokes". Those are uncalled for but I think it is in the eye of the beholder. What one may consider mean-spirited, another may not. It's all about perception.

    I have a crude and dark sense of humor. Some find that offensive while others laugh with me. I like Adam Sandler but don't like Will Farrell. I like Chris Rock and Bill Cosby ... two very different styles of comedy.

    PS: I had to laugh but groan at the vacuum cleaner joke. CORNY!!!

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 10:19 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 10:52 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

  • @NotPanicking--LOL! Viking kittens! That's awesome!

    @SpiritedWitch--The vacuum cleaner and the computer jokes were the main reason I added the words 'cheesy' above. I had a similar response of 'That's so stupid, but for some reason it still makes me laugh.' LOL Adam Sandler is one of my all time favorites. My brother has a very similar style of humor to Adam Sandler, so he cracks me up too (as long as we're not talking politics because he and I rarely agree on that). You've posted several things that I thought were hilarious! I like dark humor as well! I think you were the one who posted the Hitchhiker's Guide post, and I LOVED that! Probably more often than not, I would be laughing WITH you. I'm not easily offended.


    Comment by pam19 (original poster) at 11:27 AM on Jan. 13, 2011

    ^^ These guys are soooo funny. I would love it if they did it in england....
    He's freaking hilarious.....

    Funny is funny.

    Answer by Piskie at 12:03 PM on Jan. 13, 2011

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