This is worth considering. It is significant. The first thing to understand is that except for man, no animal is capable of laughter. So laughter shows a very high peak in the evolution of life. If you go out on the street and see a buffalo laughing, you will be scared to death. And if you report it, then nobody will believe that it can happen. It is impossible. Why don’t animals laugh? Why can’t trees laugh?
There is a very deep cause for laughter. Only that animal can laugh which can get bored. Animals and trees are not bored. Boredom and laughter are the polar dualities, these are the polar opposites. They go together. And man is the only animal that is bored. Boredom is the symbol of humanity. Look at dogs and cats; they are never bored. Man seems to be deep in boredom. Why aren’t other animals bored? Why does man alone suffer boredom?
The higher the intelligence, the greater is boredom. The lower intelligence is not bored so much. That’s why primitives are happier. You will find people in the primitive societies are happier than those in civilized ones. Bertrand Russel became jealous when for the first time, he came into contact with some primitive tribes. He started feeling jealous. The aboriginals were so happy, they were not bored at all. Life was a blessing to them. They were poor starved, almost naked. In every way, they had nothing. But they were not bored with life. In Bombay, in New York, in London, everybody is bored. The higher the level of intelligence and civilization, the greater the boredom.
So the secret can be understood. The more you can think, the more you will be bored; because through thinking you can compare time as past, future and present. Through thinking you can hope. Through thinking you can ask for the meaning of it all. And the moment a person asks: ”What is the meaning of it?” boredom enters, because there is no meaning in anything, really. If you ask the question, ”What is the meaning of it?”, you will feel meaningless. And when meaninglessness is felt, one will be bored. Animals are not bored. Trees are not bored. Rocks are not bored. They never feel it is meaningless. As they are, they accept it. As life is, it is accepted. There is no boredom. Man feels bored. And laughter is the antidote. You cannot live without laughter; because you can negate your boredom only through laughter. You cannot find a single joke in primitive societies. They don’t have any jokes. Jews have the largest number of jokes. And they are the most bored people on the earth. They must be bored; because they win more Nobel Prizes than any other community. During the whole of the last century, all the great names are almost all Jews – Freud Einstein, Marx. And look at the list of Nobel Prize winners. Almost half the Nobel Prize winners are Jews. They have the largest number of jokes.
And this may be the reason why all over the world Jews are hated. Everybody feels jealous of them. Wherever they may be, they will always win any type of competition. Everybody feels jealous of them. The whole world is united against them. It feels hateful against them. When you cannot compete with someone, hatred is the result. Jews must be feeling very bored. So they have to create jokes. Jokes are the antidote for boredom.
”Laughter is needed for you to exist. Otherwise, you will commit suicide.”
Now try to understand the mechanism of laughter and how it happens. If I tell a joke, why do you laugh? What makes you laugh. What happens? What is the inner mechanism? If I tell a joke expectation is created. You start expecting. Your mind starts searching for what the end will be. And you cannot conceive the end.
A joke moves in two dimensions. First it moves in a logical dimension. You can conceive it. If the joke goes on logically to the very end, it will cease to be a joke; there will be no laughter. So suddenly the joke takes a turn and becomes so illogical that you cannot conceive it. And when the joke takes a turn and the result becomes illogical; then the expectation, the tension that was created in you, suddenly explodes. You relax. Laughter comes out.
Laughter is the relaxation. But tension is first needed. A story creates expectation, suspense and tension. You start feeling the crescendo. Now the crescendo will come. Something is going to happen. Your backbone is straight like that of a yogi. You have no more thoughts in the mind. The whole being is just waiting. All the energy is moving toward the conclusion. Suddenly something happens which the mind could not think of. Something absurd happens – something illogical, irrational. The end is such that it was impossible for logic to think about it. And you explode. The whole energy that had become tense inside you suddenly gets relaxed. Laughter comes out through this relaxation.
Man is bored. Hence he needs laughter. The more bored, the more laughter he will need. Otherwise, he cannot exist.
Thirdly, it has to be understood that there are three types of laughter. The first is when you laugh at someone else. This is the meanest, the lowest, the most ordinary and vulgar when you laugh at the expense of somebody else. This is the violent, the aggressive, the insulting type Deep down this laughter there is always a feeling of revenge.
The second type of laughter is when you laugh at yourself. This is worth achieving. This is cultured. And this man is valuable who can laugh at himself. He has risen above vulgarity. He has risen above lowly instincts – hatred, aggression, violence.
And the third is the last – the highest. This is not about anybody – neither the other nor oneself. The third is just Cosmic. You laugh at the whole situation as it is. The whole situation, as it is, is absurd – no purpose in the future, no beginning in the beginning. The whole situation of Existence is such that if you can see the Whole – such a great infinite vastness moving toward no fixed purpose, no goal – laughter will arise. So much is going on without leading anywhere; nobody is there in the past to create it; nobody is there in the end to finish it. Such is whole Cosmos – moving so beautifully, so systematically, so rationally. If you can see this whole Cosmos, then a laughter is inevitable.
”I have heard about three monks. No names are mentioned, because they never disclosed their names to anybody. They never answered anything. In China, they are simply known as the three laughing monks. And they did only one thing: they would enter a village, stand in the market place and start laughing. They would laugh with their whole being and suddenly people would become aware. Then others would also get the infection and a crowd would gather. The whole crowd would start laughing just because of them. What was happening? The whole town would get involved. Then they would move to another town.
”They were loved very much. That was their only sermon, their only message; that laugh. And they would not teach; they would simply create a situation.
”Then it happened that they became famous all over the country. Three laughing monks. All of China loved them, respected them. Nobody had ever preached in such a way that life must be just a laughter and nothing else. They were not laughing at anyone in particular. They were simply laughing as if they had understood the Cosmic joke. And they spread so much joy all over China without using a single word. People would ask for their names, but they would simply laugh. So that became their name – the three laughing monks.
”Then they grew old. And while staying in one village. one of the three monks died. The whole village became very much expectant because they thought that when one of them had died, the other two would surely weep. This must be worth seeing because no one had ever seen these people weeping. The whole village gathered. But the two monks were standing beside the corpse of the third and laughing – such a belly laugh. So the villagers asked them to explain this.
”So for the first time, the two monks spoke and said, ’We are laughing because this man has won. We were always wondering as to who would die first and this man has defeated us. We are laughing at our defeat and his victory. Also he lived with us for many years and we laughed together and we enjoyed each other’s togetherness, presence. There can be no better way of giving him the last send off. We can only laugh.
”But the whole village was sad. And when the dead monk’s body was put on the funeral pyre, then the village realized that the remaining two monks were not the only ones who were joking, the third who was dead was also laughing. He had asked his companions not to change his clothes. It was conventional that when a man died they changed his dress and gave a bath to the body. So the third monk had said, ’Don’t give me a bath because I have never been unclean. So much laughter has been in my life that no impurity can accumulate, can come to me. I have not gathered any dust. Laughter is always young and fresh. So don’t give me a bath and don’t change my clothes.’
”So just to respect his wishes, they did not change his clothes. And when the body was put to fire, suddenly they became aware that he had hidden some Chinese fire-works under his clothes and they had started going off. So the whole village laughed and the other two monks said: ’You rascal, you are dead, but you have defeated us once again. Your laughter is the last.’
”There is a Cosmic laughter which comes into being when the whole joke of this Cosmos is understood. That is of the highest. And only a Buddha can laugh like that. These three monks must have been three Buddhas. But if you can laugh the second type of laughter, that is also worth trying. Avoid the first. Don’t laugh at anyone’s expense. That is ugly and violent. If you want to laugh, then laugh at yourself.
”That’s why Mulla Nasruddin, in all his jokes and stories, always proves himself the stupid one, never anybody else. He always laughs at himself and allows you to laugh at him. He never puts anybody else in the situation of being foolish. Sufis say that Mulla Nasrudin is the wise fool. Learn at least that much – the second laughter.
”If you can learn the second, then the third will not be far ahead. Soon you will reach the third. But leave the first type. That laughter is degrading. But almost ninety-nine percent of your laughter is of the first type. Much courage is needed to laugh at oneself. Much confidence is needed to laugh at oneself.
— Osho (During his discourses on the Akshya Upanishad)