It’s Hard to Be a Funny Buddhist

It’s hard to be a funny Buddhist. This is because so much humour depends on silly, foolish-sounding statements and pointing out ‘annoying’ things like “don’t you just hate how… or ever notice how annoying it is when…?” Buddhists try to uproot all ignorance and aversion from their lives in order to undermine the causes of suffering. This fact really limits their comedic possibilities.

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There are, however, some forms of humour that are consistent with Buddhist practice.  I went to see the Dalai Lama both in a small, intimate gathering and in a larger setting at the Bell Center and found he had a wonderfully joyful, lighthearted approach.

His type of humour is the kind that is, I think, open to Buddhists: self-deprecating humour. Someone asked him to do something supernatural and he answered “What, you think because I have a fancy title that I have supernatural powers?” and then burst into a hearty laugh.

Buddhists also can laugh at their own reactions to suffering, but not in a mocking way, more of in a “ah, look how silly we are… it’s funny, but let’s learn from it.”

In addition, innocent jokes are open to practicing Buddhists; as are “Why did the Buddhist cross the stream?” jokes. (“To reach the other Shore!”)

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