14 November 2011

Contemplation: A Sense of Humor

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take the following as your object of contemplation:

Q: Is sense of humor related in any way to the experience of instant enlightenment, satori?

A: Certainly. There is the story of a person who died laughing. He was a simple village person who asked a teacher the color of Amitabha which, traditionally, iconographically,is red. Somehow, by mistake, he thought the teacher said Amitabha's color was the color of ash in a fire. And this influenced his whole meditation practice; because when he practiced visualizing Amitabha, it was a grey Amitabha.

Finally the man was dying. As he lay on his deathbed he wanted to make sure, so he asked another teacher the color of Amitabha. The teacher said Amitabha's color was red and the man suddenly burst into laughter: "Well, I used to think him the color of ash, and now you tell me he is red." He burst into laughter and died laughing. So it is a question of overcoming a kind of seriousness.

There are many stories of people who were actually able to see the awakened state by breaking into laughter--seeing the contrast, the irony of polar situations.

Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, p. 117.

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