Shuukan – Laughter! – July 5, 2014

I encountered Zen Buddhism fairly early in life but never really deepened the acquaintance until around 1990.  I’d read haiku of course had seen the lovely art work and haiga though not by that name and read anything about Zen that I could get my hands on.  In 1990 I began to study shiatsu.

My master was Wataru Ohashi, and though I’d met him rarely studying in the Rome Ohashiatsu center I did have the opportunity to translate for him when he visited our school.  He can laugh about anything and does often – his joy of life is fantastic and he’s a Zen Buddhist.  During this period, I came across Watt’s “The Way of Zen” became familiar with Zen philosophy, practiced Ikebana and generally immersed myself in Zen … though never becoming a Buddhist.

One of the aspects I enjoy in the many oriental Buddhists I’ve met (both Zen and Tibetan) is their power to laugh in the face of tragedy.  Have a look at the Dalai Lama for example:

What a vision!  And to hear him talk and laugh is a pleasure!

One of my favorite Zen stories is the reply of a Zen Master to one of his students when asked where his Buddhist mind or maybe his Buddhist nature was … he laughed and danced with his shoes on his head!

I love Issa … such a wonderful poet and so much humor!

Approaching my village:

Don’t know about the people,
but all the scarecrows
are crooked.

(C) Issa


Unfortunately, I’ve seen that our western culture can often dampen this beautiful aspect of Zen when mixed with our over-serious illuministic attitude.  Oh the attitude of certain Zen masters is really very funny when one thinks about the ancient masters.

Our haiku and tanka can become stilted too and I think we often are more subservient to the “rules” of haiku than even the Japanese. On the other hand, we tend to be over serious about our own poetry too, often emphasizing the tragic/romantic aspects of life.

Zen masters have often spoken of Enlightenment as like the moon shining brightly in the dark sky, while the Zen Buddhist teachings are like a finger pointing up toward the moon. Too many people, however, instead of gazing at the great moon, prefer to relentlessly suck on the finger!

Laughter is one of the sounds of Zen.  The here and now essential beauty of life can only be enjoyed with a light heart.

women arguing
people stop to see the show
the bird’s bowels moved

Written for Carpe Diem Shuukan – laugher

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