The Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Knowledge

Laughter brings strength

When a child is born, the first social activity that the child learns — or maybe it is not right to say learns, because he brings it with himself — is smiling. By smiling he becomes part of society. It seems very natural, spontaneous. Other things will come later on — that is his first spark of being in the world. When a mother sees her child smiling, she becomes tremendously happy… because that smile shows health, intelligence; that smile shows that the child is not stupid, not retarded. That smile shows that the child is going to live, love, be happy. The mother is simply thrilled. Smiling is the first social activity, and should remain the basic social activity. One should go on laughing the whole of one’s life.

If you can laugh in all sorts of situations, you will become so capable of encountering them — and that encounter will bring maturity to you.


I am not saying don’t weep. In fact, if you cannot laugh, you cannot weep. They go together; they are part of one phenomenon: of being true and authentic. There are millions of people whose tears have dried; their eyes have lost luster, depth; their eyes have lost water — because they cannot weep, they cannot cry; tears cannot flow naturally. If laughter is crippled, tears are also crippled.

Only a person who laughs well can weep well.


And if you can weep and laugh well, you are alive. The dead man cannot laugh and cannot weep. The dead man can be serious. Watch: go and look at a corpse — the dead man can be serious in a more skillful way than you can be. Only an alive man can laugh and weep and cry. These are moods of your inner being, these are climates — enriching. But, by and by, everybody forgets. That which was natural in the beginning becomes unnatural. You need somebody to poke you into laughter, tickle you into laughter; only then do you laugh. That’s why so many jokes exist in the world. Laughter brings strength. Now, even medical science says that laughter is one of the most deep-going medicines nature has provided to man. If you can laugh when you are ill you will get your health back sooner. If you cannot laugh, even if you are healthy, sooner or later you will lose your health and you will become ill. Laughter brings some energy from your inner source to your surface. Energy starts flowing, follows laughter like a shadow. Have you watched it?

When you really laugh, for those few moments you are in a deep meditative state. Thinking stops.

It is impossible to laugh and think together. They are diametrically opposite: either you can laugh or you can think. If you really laugh, thinking stops. If you are still thinking, laughter will be just so-so… a crippled laughter. When you really laugh, suddenly the mind disappears. And the whole Zen methodology is how to get into no-mind; laughter is one of the beautiful doors to get to it.

As far as I know, dancing and laughter are the best, natural, easily approachable doors. If you really dance, thinking stops. You go on and on, you whirl and whirl, and you become a whirlpool: all boundaries, all divisions are lost. You don’t even know where your body ends and where the existence begins. You melt into existence and the existence melts into you; there is an overlapping of boundaries. And if you are really dancing — not managing it but allowing it to manage you, allowing it to possess you — if you are possessed by dance, thinking stops. The same happens with laughter. If you are possessed by laughter, thinking stops. And if you know a few moments of no-mind, those glimpses will promise you many more rewards that are going to come. More and more, thinking has to be dropped. Laughter can be a beautiful introduction to a non-thinking state. The moment you feel that sleep is gone, first start laughing, then open the eyes — and that will set a trend for the whole day.

If you can laugh early in the morning you will laugh the whole day.


You have created a chain effect; one thing leads to another. Laughter leads to more laughter. Almost always I have seen people doing just the wrong thing. From the very early morning they get out of bed complaining, gloomy, sad, depressed, miserable. Then one thing leads to another… and for nothing. And they get angry… it is very bad because it will change your climate for the whole day, it will set a pattern for the whole day. Try it! Start and finish your day with laughter, and you will see, by and by, in between these two more and more laughter starts happening.

Zen people are more sane. In their insanity they are saner than you. They start with laughter, and then the whole day you will feel laughter bubbling, welling up. There are so many ridiculous things happening all over. Life must be dying from its laughter – down the centuries, for eternity, seeing this ridiculousness of the world. The people that it has created, and all the absurdities – it is really a comedy. It must be laughing

If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear the divine also laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing – trees and stones and stars with you. And the Zen monk goes to sleep in the night again with laughter. The day is over, the drama is closed again – with laughter he says “Good-bye, and if I survive again, tomorrow morning I will greet you again with laughter.” Try it! Start and finish your day with laughter, and you will see, by and by, in between more and more laughter starts happening. And the more laughing you become, the more religious you become.

There was a stout fellow who was called the Happy Chinaman, or the Laughing Buddha.


This Hotei had no desire to call himself a Zen master, or to gather disciples around him. Every master has his unique method to express whatsoever he has attained – it was laughter for Hotei. He went from one town to another, travelling continuously all his life – laughing. It is said that he would come to a town, stand in the middle of the village, and start laughing. And then people would start laughing at him, a madman has come; then the crowd would gather, and by and by the laughter would spread. It would become infectious and the whole crowd would surge with laughter. He would create waves of laughter, and in that laughter satsang was happening – what in India we call “satsang,” the presence of the master.

Then, by and by, those who had eyes would start looking at him: “He is not a madman – in the garb of a madman a Buddha is standing there.” Then those who had ears to hear, they would start hearing that it was not just the laughter of a madman – something of tremendous significance was transpiring between them and Hotei. This was his way of expressing his being. This was his way of preaching – a beautiful way.

Extracts from ‘Osho: A Sudden Clash of Thunder’, Chapter 9 – “The Laughing Buddha”

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