There are three kinds of laughter in Life. One is when we laugh at others. The other is when we laugh at ourselves. And the third is when we laugh at Life itself. As we progress through Life, it is important for us to graduate from one form of laughter to another.
Osho, the Master, used to tell the story of the three laughing Buddhas of China. 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 also caught the infectious spirit and soon a laughing crowd would gather. The whole crowd would be laughing just because of the three of them.
All of China loved them, respected them. Nobody had ever preached that Life must be just a laughter and nothing else. The monks 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 or Buddhas.
Then they grew old. And soon one of the three monks died. The whole village, where they were staying at that time, thought that when one of them had died, the other two monks would surely weep. The whole village gathered around the dead monk but everyone was looking at the other two with shock and awe. Because the two monks were standing beside the corpse of the third and laughing their guts out.
When the dead monk’s body was put on the funeral pyre, then the villagers realized that the remaining two monks were not the only ones who were laughing, the third who was dead was also laughing. He had asked his companions not to change his clothes. It was a tradition that when a man died they changed his dress and gave a bath to the body. So the third monk had told his colleagues, ‘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 in 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.’
Just to respect the dead man’s wishes, they did not change his clothes. And when the pyre was lit, suddenly they became aware that he had hidden some Chinese fireworks 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.’
The story of the three monks, the laughing Buddhas, reminds of the cosmic joke. There’s no point, literally, with this lifetime of ours. All we do, between birth and death, is to work harder than ever before, earning-a-living. And then we will all die – such is the nature of creation. So, once we get the cosmic joke, the pointlessness of Life itself, we don’t laugh at anyone – not others, not on oneself. We simply laugh at Life.
If we can get to this stage of laughing at Life, we will have found the way to happiness and inner peace!