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The Cosmic Joke behind Enlightenment

By Chad Foreman on Thursday March 17th, 2016

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cosmic-joke_feature

Is seeing the Humour in Enlightenment the key to finding it?

The great cosmic joke is that you are what you are seeking. All the religious and spiritual seeking on this planet and you end up back where you started. If that’s not a fantastic joke worth a good belly laugh I don’t know what is. We all look for happiness, peace and fulfilment in the things of the world, yet all along these things are our very nature – our very own centre of being. Meditation masters and mystics throughout history have seen the joke of it as Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains:

I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

Alt text hereThich Nhat Hanh

Have we been taking enlightenment too seriously?

The Buddhists have been onto the joke for a while, their main training is to not take things seriously. What else is being unattached than a great sense of humour? Buddha realised that all conditions of the world are temporary and taking any of it too seriously creates suffering.

I’m not sure how humans made such a big a deal out of this simple truth but it’s because everyone else was taking things seriously and causing a lot of problems for themselves they held up Buddha to be all enlightened, worshipped him, created another religion and over the years have mostly missed the basic point. Another Buddhist meditator, Longchenpa, realised this simple truth again some two thousand years later and said:

Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.

Alt text hereThe Buddhists have been onto the joke for a while

What about the warning from spiritual teachers that every single thing you imagine yourself to be is a clever lie constructed by a psychological defence mechanism against the existential truth of transiency.  In other words you are not who you think you are. That’s pretty funny isn’t it? However laughing about it, not taking yourself seriously, is another wonderful coping mechanism to be able to digest such seemingly harsh truths. As Longchenpa says, you may as well burst out laughing,  or as a modern Zen master Adyashanti explains:

We realize–often quite suddenly–that our sense of self, which has been formed and constructed out of our ideas, beliefs and images, is not really who we are. It doesn’t define us, it has no centre.

I have watched hundreds of spiritual teachers and the best ones have a common trait – they giggle a lot. Even my main Buddhist teacher, an intellectual giant in the Gelug-pa Tibetan Buddhist tradition, would consistently forecast his arrival into the temple with bouts of laughter. Another favourite teacher of mine is Alan Watts whom you can’t watch for 5 minutes without getting to hear his infectious cackling and the current Dalai Lama is almost famous for his warm giggle. Alan Watts once remarked:

People suffer only because they take seriously what the gods made for fun.

Alt text hereThe humour of Alan Watts

Laughter and humour are not just frivolous. They can be a sharp tools to cut through the bullshit. Sometimes in society it’s the comedians who are the only ones telling the truth. Not the politicians, not the priests and not even the school teachers but the people who can step back and see the ridiculousness of current affairs. In fact more and more people are getting their truthful political information from The Late Show and from comedians like the late Bill Hicks and George Carlin, who would deliver sobering doses of reality which was actually very true and therefore very funny. Comedians often point to the discrepancy between how we think things are and how they actually are, fortunately that evokes laughter, unfortunately people tend go back to living a lie after the laughter subsides.

The enlightened fool is the one who sees the ego trips of society and can still find joy and laughter in its midst. The fool is often the enlightened one, the one with crazy wisdom, with laughter and jokes as their weapon, they cut through the mundane conformity and bring to light the latent child like bliss bubbling just beneath the surface of all seriousness. The fool possesses a wisdom that is out of reach of the conformist. A playful attitude in touch with enormous amounts of creativity.

Alt text hereA young George Carlin

Humour is also extremely healing, they say laughter is the greatest medicine and it’s true. It can also ease the stress and tension of daily life, reduce boredom at work and unite people of different backgrounds. Everybody takes themselves and others too seriously.

So if humour can heal, relax, unite people, undo the ego and entertain all at the same time that sounds enlightening enough for me.

Which brings me to the laughable way most people understand enlightenment, that is an enlightened person is a perfect person. Perfect virtue, perfect love, perfect knowledge and as a meditation teacher jokes even perfectly smelling sandalwood farts. This ideal of the perfect person is a joke and does not exist in reality. It creates cults of worship around people who are seen as perfect and just stresses the rest of us out with guilt for not living up to these idealistic fantasies.

Alt text hereHumour is so healing many are turning to Laughter Yoga classes

If Nietzsche declared ‘God is dead’ and Zen Buddhists urge us to ‘kill Buddha in the street’ I would like to add if you believe in a perfect Guru – slap yourself across your face, and see if it doesn’t hurt. That’s reality. Reality is perfect because it can deliver all range of human emotions from sadness and despair to elation and joy. Trying to just have perfect emotions and a perfect life only invites a massive come down of disappointment. As Alan Watts says, you cannot have up with down or even right without wrong.

All you have to do is be yourself

So all that’s left is to just be your natural self. As someone once said if you can laugh at yourself you will never be short of material. Or as one of my favourite Zen teachers Brad Warner says:

The state of ambiguity – that messy, greasy, mixed-up, confused, and awful situation you’re living through right now – is enlightenment itself.

Alt text hereHow enlightening it is to be yourself

Another cosmic joke is that we will all die. This is not scary it is reality. Of course religions have made a business out of promising you that there is life after death and there are consequences to all your actions after death, the fear of fire and brimstone or the desire for virgins in heaven are potent motivators to act responsibly in our lives and also a powerful invocation to take the priests, churches and traditional lineages seriously. It’s the oldest trick in the ‘book’. But it’s time to grow up and be able to act responsibly without the need for fairy tales. We live, we love, we grow, we die. That’s absolutely beautiful and enchanting enough. As Osho says:

Life as it is should be enough of a reason to laugh. It is so absurd, it is so ridiculous. It is so beautiful, it is so wonderful. It is all sorts of things together. It is a great cosmic joke.

So where does the cosmic joke lead us? Back to where we started; to the unadulterated pure joy of just being alive – laughing for no reason and grinning like a mad hatter. Life becomes play instead of a chore, a cosmic dance on the needle head of eternity.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

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Words By Chad Foreman

Originally posted on The Way of Meditation

 

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comments

  • I live my life like this. I look for the joy in each moment and that means I mainly find joy and don’t dwell on the negative. My mantra is that i see life as a series of lessons about life. That way I don’t take anything personally. Things happen, it is how we deal with it that matters. I have unconditional love and joy, I share it all the time because love and Joy is something we can never deplete, the more we give it away the more we have.

  • simplysimon2

    The end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started and know that place for the 1st time! TS Eliot

  • Dayanand B Saxena

    Cricketer Mr Gayle born in a poor ffamily says that his mother taught him to laugh thro adversity

  • Ben Tousey

    I tried being serious once… but everybody laughed.

  • Baldeep Singh

    Those that say they know do not. “I don’t know” is a statement of truth. “I don’t know shit” is even better!

    • friendlyprogrammer

      Speak for yourself please.

      • Baldeep Singh

        I did, my friend. Ego is limited, by definition. Truth is very quiet, I think. I like your cloud visalization. It seems quiet and peaceful.

        • friendlyprogrammer

          The cloud thing was not meant as a visualization. You are meant to try this on real clouds floating above your house. I just wrote a long comment for someone else.. let me re-edit it and try to explain magik in easier terms… THIS COMMENT WILL TEACH YOU REAL MAGIK…

          Judeo-Christianity is nonsense. Science has proven we live in a simulation and that our past can be altered (Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment).

          The Buddhist and Hindus and ancient Egyptians all say we live in a perfect and high definition imagination in which we are all a portion of..

          This is easy to prove.

          Simply walk outside and pick two fluffy white clouds.. Then paint one of them blue with your mind..

          The cloud will vanish completely and the control cloud will remain completely intact.

          This works because nobody has any notions about the solidity of a cloud… try to dissolve a brick using the same method and you will be up against the minds of everyone who has ever seen, heard of, or touched a brick.

          If you invite a friend to watch your new magik then they could pollute and/or cancel your magik.

          You may think this is too silly to even try… no skin off my nose… but it will work every single time … just make sure you do it alone to avoid skeptic pollution..

          If you do this 20 times in a row then you have performed 20 miracles/magik… How many miracles do you need to perform to convince you my words are true? Do that many…

          We do live in a giant imagination…

          Even our time is not constant… If you are drowning in the ocean and are skeptic … you will drown… If you are drowning and believe in your own magik or a deity then your FAITH,EXPECTATION,BELIEF can cause a rescue…

          Suddenly three days ago (IN THE PAST)(IN THE PAST) a cruise ship and 3000 passengers get a “newer” weather report and alter course to rescue you… You could still be at home packing for your sailing trip the following day… and yet a cruise ship has already altered course to save you..

          Effect can and often does precede cause…. This is the basis for Hermetic magik (Which I teach).

          My book “The Savvy Sorcerer” has many lessons like these… try to do them and still doubt religion…

          Feel free to diss Judeo-Christianity because that is hard hosewallop for anyone to swallow, but when the Buddhists and Hindus (you know the blokes who brought us meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, etc.) tell us we live inside a giant imagination for the past 9000 years… they were right..

          If you do the cloud busting experiment alone… then you will a) perform an authentic miracle/magik… and b) you prove that you are living inside an imagination where your imagination has influence.

          I was raised by freemasons and taught magik my entire life. I have seen more authentic miracles than most anyone.

          I have offered you proof… It is up to you to try or not try.

          If anyone says they tried it and failed while alone I will not believe it. It is so easy to melt a cloud, and even the worst novice should be able.

          I teach REAL magik… and you have just learned enough to alter your religion forever (unless you are Buddhist, Hindu, Hermetic, Wiccan already…)

          So… when you say people are ‘full of [poop]’… I have shown real proof. Just try it. The cloud thing is not ‘peaceful’… it is novice magik meant to demonstrate our powers over this ‘mental’ universe.

          If I give spiritual advise it is not because I am full of poop. It is because I understand the mechanisms of the universe… If you meditate on this comment you will learn much.

          Wayne Hilborn (author of “The Savvy Sorcerer”)

  • Mark

    I enjoyed the overall article, but when the author states that “. . .it’s time to grow up and be able to act responsibly without the need for fairy tales. We live, we love, we grow, we die… death is death and to believe otherwise is fantasy is just silly.” This statement silly. You don’t ‘know’ there is nothing after death any more than I ‘know’ there is.

  • Hawk620

    ‘Enlightemment’ is a fraud and taking it at the fork in the road will lead to misery. ‘Enlightening’, ‘awakening’, ‘evolving’, ad infinitum is what is really ‘happening’…and the human collective experiment is a microcosm of the macrocosm…eternally ‘spiraling’…

    • Frank Burton

      I can relate to this also, taking our cues from nature there is never an “enlightenment” but a continuous journey of evolving and growing. After all, we are a part of this wonderful creation, all is ONE.

    • friendlyprogrammer

      Many describe enlightenment as some kind of knowledge. It is an aspect of spirituality that everyone should try to surpass. Astral projection is close to enlightenment, but maybe you think that is also fraudulent. I do not grasp how enlightenment can be fraudulent when it is the pinnacle of spirituality among humans.

      • Hawk620

        You believe the state of cosmic consciousness is a noun, that it is static. Hardly.

        • friendlyprogrammer

          How can you argue a negative with a straight face? Science does not preclude the notion of a god-consciousness. The atomic model still in use to this day was postulated by a man (Niels Bohr) who went to his grave believing wholeheartedly that when you close the refrigerator door everything inside literally ceases to exist.

          I will go farther and tell you that I presume to have had enlightening out of body experiences. The kind you say is a fraud. I also teach meditation, lucid dreaming, remote viewing, etc.

          If you want to understand the science behind religion then try “The Simulation Hypothesis – Documentary 2015” (I’m not affiliated).

          I teach real magik… You may find that hard to believe. In fact; I would say that you would argue against this being possible… So I shall prove it.

          You seem like a worthy skeptic so I will now turn you into a pseudo-scientist full of woo… WARNING: reading below might make you religious…

          Judeo-Christianity is nonsense. Science has proven we live in a simulation and that our past can be altered (Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment).

          The Buddhist and Hindus and ancient Egyptians all say we live in a perfect and high definition imagination in which we are all a portion of..

          This is easy to prove.

          Simply walk outside and pick two fluffy white clouds.. Then paint one of them blue with your mind..

          The cloud will vanish completely and the control cloud will remain completely intact.

          This works because nobody has any notions about the solidity of a cloud… try to dissolve a brick using the same method and you will be up against the minds of everyone who has ever seen, heard of, or touched a brick.

          If you invite a friend to watch your new magik then they could pollute and/or cancel your magik.

          You may think this is too silly to even try… no skin off my nose… but it will work every single time … just make sure you do it alone to avoid skeptic pollution..

          If you do this 20 times in a row then you have performed 20 miracles/magik… How many miracles do you need to perform to convince you my words are true? Do that many…

          We do live in a giant imagination…

          Even our time is not constant… If you are drowning in the ocean and are skeptic … you will drown… If you are drowning and believe in your own magik or a deity then your FAITH,EXPECTATION,BELIEF can cause a rescue…

          Suddenly three days ago (IN THE PAST)(IN THE PAST) a cruise ship and 3000 passengers get a “newer” weather report and alter course to rescue you… You could still be at home packing for your sailing trip the following day… and yet a cruise ship has already altered course to save you..

          Effect can and often does precede cause…. This is the basis for Hermetic magik (Which I teach).

          My book “The Savvy Sorcerer” has many lessons like these… try to do them and still doubt religion…

          Feel free to diss Judeo-Christianity because that is hard hosewallop for anyone to swallow, but when the Buddhists and Hindus (you know the blokes who brought us meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, etc.) tell us we live inside a giant imagination for the past 9000 years… they were right..

          If you do the cloud busting experiment alone… then you will a) perform an authentic miracle/magik… and b) you prove that you are living inside an imagination where your imagination has influence.

          I was raised by freemasons and taught magik my entire life. I have seen more authentic miracles than most anyone.

          I have offered you proof… It is up to you to do or do not.

          It is so easy to melt a cloud, and even the worst novice should be able.

          I teach REAL magik… and you have just learned enough to alter your religion forever (unless you are Buddhist, Hindu, Hermetic, Wiccan already…)

          You can leave this comment wanting to “prove me wrong” or denying enlightenment is possible… Maybe you want to prescribe me crazy pills. The truth is that I gave you easy proof that you are living in one giant imagination of sorts. This only takes 10 minutes to try…. 10 minutes to convince yourself that you will live forever and that enlightenment is merely a small step.

          If I have not convinced you then your skepticism is strong, as I am one of the better teachers of these topics.

          Being a part of god is not that bad… You say grace a lot more…

          Wayne Hilborn (author of “The Savvy Sorcerer”)

  • Jaret Blidook

    Cool article! 😄

  • Sudhir Desai

    Even though that is where you might end up at the journey – realizing that it is silly and not to be taken seriously, something has changed. You are now a much more conscious and aware person, and that cannot be achieved by laughing. In that sense this article is a joke. The journey is an important part of arriving at laughter.

    • Brokenprototype

      The main joke here is the concept “journey”. If one considers that we’re consciousness, one will be able to notice intuitively that there’s no such thing as “a journey”. This so called “journey”, is made by the ego, or false personality or whatever you wanna call it.

  • DetroitBertha

    great article ~ HA HA HA HA HA HA

  • Lev Lafayette
    • friendlyprogrammer

      A simple way to describe the Buddhist, Hindu, Hermetic (ancient Egyptian), and Wiccan faith is to imagine the entire universe is a giant imagination and we are inside a dream. Every thought from every person contributes to our group reality. An atheist or Christian could happily flip-off a fellow driver on the way to work not realizing that hate is polluting our collective shared imagination. If you THINK your mother has moved into a bad neighborhood then she could be attacked just to satisfy that belief. Our world can be cruel, and it will continue to be as long as people continue to have cruel thoughts. Namaste (means I know you are god so wisen up)… actually it means “I bow to the divine [god] in you”… which is the same thing really. I will quickly prove this is true since I wrote this much… Walk outside and paint a cloud sky-blue with your mind and it will soon vanish… this works because your imagination can control the group imagination to a degree.. It must fit belief. Do this alone or risk skeptic pollution. That is 100% proof that a) you are imaginary and b) that you can control our group imagination with your imagination (we call it magik). Good luck though… 10 minutes to prove you are a powerful god is pretty fair..

      • levlafayette

        You’re saying that if starving kids imagine that they’re not starving that everything will be OK?

        Look I’m all for an agnostic approach to metaphysics and maybe life really is a dream, but for some people within it it’s a nightmare. Your lack of moral engagement with such experiences is less than helpful.

    • Percy Anun Ra

      This is VERY, VERY OLD. Always witht he same african starving kids.

      Do you want to make a diference? Sell all your stuff and go to Africa to help the hungry kids. Otherwise, you are being completely cynic. Is very old to always use these photos as a weapon… sell your iphone, or whatever decide you uploaded this photo and fly yourself there and become a missionaire.

      • levlafayette

        Already spent a year working in the poorest country on the planet.

        I guess that’s part of the reason why I find the entire “don’t take things too seriously” cosmic joke approach to be only for those with a full belly who know where their next meal is coming from.

        • Percy Anun Ra

          I assume you mean you volunteer, as “working” means getting paid.

          A kid does not melt my heart more than an adult, who could me in the same misserable conditions. I care the same for kids in poverty that adults, and the whole “look at this poor kids” it is just a way to receive more donations, as main stream teaches that is sadder when a kid suffers… both the kid and the adult, do have a soul, and many adults (like kids) probably have the same resources. The kid is an innocent sufferer, hoping for the best, the adult, it is a realist suffered, who believes he is screwed for life, hence no hope.

          Both do have a soul as well.

          Sorry, usings kids is cynism. Show the country as a whole, with ALL living beings, not just human kids.

  • Maia

    I would say that Enlightenment is not a ‘joke’ at all. It is a serious change in a human’s Being and it is a renewed connection to Source which may cause someone to take one’s own life. And I for one have not been taught by any religion or human being on this subject but have been guided by an inner knowing from birth and connection to Self. And life as a ‘consciousness’ is ongoing.

    So if not to be taken seriously why to monks and others take their Selves into a ‘life of solitude’ instead of being in a family environment having a good laugh????

  • friendlyprogrammer

    Dang! This article is pretty bad. You think there is no life after death… I WILL PROVE TO YOU THAT YOU ARE IMMORTAL IN THIS TINY COMMENT….. YOU NEED TO STUDY THIS COMMENT AND LEARN FROM IT. Judeo-Christianity is nonsense. Science has proven we live in a simulation and that our past can be altered (Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment).

    The Buddhist and Hindus and ancient Egyptians all say we live in a perfect and high definition imagination in which we are all a portion of..

    This is easy to prove.

    Simply walk outside and pick two fluffy white clouds.. Then paint one of them blue with your mind..

    The cloud will vanish completely and the control cloud will remain completely intact.

    This works because nobody has any notions about the solidity of a cloud… try to dissolve a brick using the same method and you will be up against the minds of everyone who has ever seen, heard of, or touched a brick.

    If you invite a friend to watch your new magik then they could pollute and/or cancel your magik.

    You may think this is too silly to even try… no skin off my nose… but it will work every single time … just make sure you do it alone to avoid skeptic pollution..

    If you do this 20 times in a row then you have performed 20 miracles/magik… How many miracles do you need to perform to convince you my words are true? Do that many… 100% PROOF YOU ARE IMMORTAL… from a single comment.

    We do live in a giant imagination…

    Even our time is not constant… If you are drowning in the ocean and are skeptic … you will drown… If you are drowning and believe in your own magik or a deity then your FAITH,EXPECTATION,BELIEF can cause a rescue…

    Suddenly three days ago (IN THE PAST)(IN THE PAST) a cruise ship and 3000 passengers get a “newer” weather report and alter course to rescue you… You could still be at home packing for your sailing trip the following day… and yet a cruise ship has already altered course to save you..

    Effect can and often does precede cause…. This is the basis for Hermetic magik (Which I teach).

    My book “The Savvy Sorcerer” has many lessons like these… try to do them and still doubt religion… You will live forever.

    Feel free to diss Judeo-Christianity because that is hard hosewallop for anyone to swallow, but when the Buddhists and Hindus (you know the blokes who brought us meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, etc.) tell us we live inside a giant imagination for the past 9000 years… they were right..

    If you do the cloud busting experiment alone… then you will a) perform an authentic miracle/magik… and b) you prove that you are living inside an imagination where your imagination has influence.

    I was raised by freemasons and taught magik my entire life. I have seen more authentic miracles than most anyone.

    I have offered you proof… It is up to you to try or not try.
    It is so easy to melt a cloud, and even the worst novice should be able.

    I teach REAL magik… and you have just learned enough to alter your religion forever (unless you are Buddhist, Hindu, Hermetic, Wiccan already…)…. Please consider this comment well. I have given proof that you are a god which is not so bad once you get used to it. You can consciously create your reality.

    Wayne Hilborn (author of “The Savvy Sorcerer”)

    • PopaTheDudeAlex

      ehm, dude.. you might be right, but we are immortal simply because we are not meant to die. all that religion is, is the fear of something that does not exist, making it real and reaching out to it. this “God” is our greatest enemy, the only concept that can ruin our species. also, the fear of dying projects your mind into a pre defined future at the end of which you (you guessed it) DIE. =)) lmao

    • Brokenprototype

      We do not live in a simulated world,
      We are the simulator! Hence, we are the simulation and the simulator, simultaneously.

      Let’s imagine that consciousness is a child -which represents all of us- and energy is the child’s toy. In practice – not theoretically- both are inseparable.

      – Joystick

  • DemonSeedius

    A few years ago, I took 2C-T-2, a psychedelic drug, with a friend. It was the first time for my friend and I told him he would laugh a lot because he would realise about “the cosmic joke”. We laughed, laughed and laughed. That cosmic joke is so much fun!

  • RonInToronto

    I’m 60+ and people around me tell me that I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do when I grow up. They say that I can’t keep treating the world as an ongoing joke, and I’ve got to start taking it seriously.
    Oh, I don’t know. I see no rush. Maybe in another 20 years I’ll be closer to having to start thinking about being a grown up… but until then, I bask in the fun & ridiculousness of this planet/universe with childish joy.

    Maybe I learned a while back that the sound of Om is the universe laughing at me behind my back….

  • Brokenprototype

    All things and situations in the world are subject to change and transformation,
    and so are their images.

    It is only change that is at work here!

    ~ The Cyborg Cat

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