Buddha and humor

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    • #31641
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour,
      Did Buddha have a sense of humor? Could we find that in the sutta(s)? On a topic about pain and endurance and the sutta referring to pain by extra arrows, Thanissaro Bhikku speaks like that:
      ”What are these extra arrows? And how can you prevent yourself from shooting them? One way is to develop a good sense of humor around the whole situation. I don’t know the Pali word for humor, but you see examples of it in the Canon where the Buddha talks about the conditions for aroused effort as opposed to the conditions for laziness. The external conditions are the same in either case. If you haven’t eaten enough, you sit there complaining, ”I can’t practice today. I have no energy. I’m feeling hungry. I’m feeling tired and weak”. That’s a condition for laziness. The condition for aroused effort, if you haven’t eaten enough, is to say, ”Ah, the body is light. I don’t have to worry about digesting my food today. I’m not sleepy or drowsy or weighed down by the food”. And in the way the Buddha expresses each pair of cases, there’s a humor to the whole sutta. That’s one thing : learning how to maintain good humor around the pratice.”
      So, did Buddha have a sense of humor? , Merci, Grenier

    • #31644
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I don’t think the Buddha engaged in humor at all.

      If you have a specific Tipitaka reference we can discuss.

    • #31656
      y not
      Participant

      Bonjour, Grenier!

      Besides in the sense of fun or amusement, the word humour may also carry the meaning of a state of feeling, a ‘mood’, like in ” You seem to be in good humour today”. That does not mean, or even imply any notion of, amusement or merriment.

      When in a good mood, there is an agreeable (and so a non-conflicting) attitude. In the instance that you quote, ”learning how to maintain good humour around the practice.” should be taken in this sense: with calm and composure, realistically, with equanimity. If there is hunger and tiredness today and no practice is possible, the right conditions will be there soon, perhaps even tomorrow. Where is the fun, the ‘humour’ here? There are days at a stretch when I cannot apply myself either to reading Dhamma or participating at the Forum, though maintaining mindfulness all the while. The energy is just not there.

      The sutta you are quoting Thanissaro on is Kusīta-Ārabbhavatthu Sutta (AN 8:95). It is so, is it not? However, Suttacentral lists this as AN.80: Grounds for Laziness and arousing Energy. I cannot see how the Bhikkhu can read humour in the conventional sense here at all.
      What the Buddha is saying is that all those excuses (though REAL) should be overcome by constantly reminding oneself of the Goal . “They rouse energy for attaining the Unattained, achieving the Unachieved, and realizing the Unrealized.” (Capitals mine). Again, no hint of fun or hilarity here at all. Who knows whether any bhikkhu, or lay person, you or me or anyone else will still be alive in 1 hour’s time, in 5 seconds time? It is not a humorous situation at all.

      However, there is a sutta where the Buddha actually smiles. It is when He saw some cows in the distance. I have been unable to trace the sutta for reference, so if you come across it you may read it for yourself. It will be worth it in distinguishing between the ways of a Buddha and those of ordinary humans.

      A bhikkhu asked the Buddha: ” Lord, why have you smiled”. Now an ordinary person would smile on seeing cows either condescendingly, looking down on them, thinking: ‘Oh, poor cows. But I am human’ ,or, which is better, fondly: “What peaceful animals”. Or, if it is a cowman, their owner “Their milk is mine, their meat is mine, I own their lives” .

      But the Buddha replies that each of those cows had been a King of the Devas. Now, if one pauses at this sentence before reading the next, one may think that the Buddha was showing compassion (Karuna) for the cows. But then He concludes that none of the bhikkhus there would ever be born a cow again (meaning they all had attained at least the Sotapanna Stage). So in fact, what that smile ‘gave away’ was the sympathetic joy, Mudita, for the bhikkhus.

      With a Buddha even so much as a smile has great significance. Every act by body, word or mind is out of compassion. Teaching the Dhamma is no lighthearted matter. Much, much less a humorous one.

      May the Blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha guide you to final Liberation.

    • #31657
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      I am not familiar with the forum’s rules and the way to continue the discussion on a subject ; I will try to stay on ”Buddha and humor” . About your answers in posts # 31652 and #31656 , you are right about sutta, it is a serious matter; I brought Thanissaro Bhikkhu comments ( like the one he did on Kevatta Sutta DN 11…:”The tale that concludes the discourse is one of the finest examples of the early Buddhist sense of humor”) and questioning myself, is this an example of humor and irreverence in Buddhist scriptures? …like ”The ten funniest scenes from the Pali Canon” on Sujato’Blog…And in Theravada/Early Buddhism, the ”jokes” that Gombrich found are considered to be the oldest and most authentic in the Pali texts because jokes can’t be ”created by committee”…some versions of the Vinaya included a rule against joking about the triple gem…this rule is found in the orgin story to Sekhiya 51, and it imposes a so-called dukkata offence for making a joke about the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha. Is it Buddha who did lay it down?…if not, then it is not really binding on the Sangha; but the Dhamma is clearly a serious matter. It would be irresponsible to poke fun at the Dhamma in such a way that people lose their respect for it. There is a fine line between reasonable merrymaking and degradation of the Dhamma and I am not sure it is possible to make any hard and fast judgement as to what is acceptable and what is not…this world of ours is so full of grey areas! Thanks for your lights, Grenier

    • #31658
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Grenier,

      No problem. The point is that unless you start discussing a different topic, it is better to continue the discussion on the same thread.

      Regarding your quotes by others, it would be good to see the original posts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Bhikkhu Sujato, Gombrich, etc.

      It is not fair to them for me to comment specifically without seeing their posts.
      – Would it be possible to provide the links to their comments?
      – The way to do that is explained in the following post:
      How to Post/Reply to a Forum Question

      If those instructions are not clear, you can email the links to me ([email protected]) and I can post them for you.

    • #31659
      Christian
      Participant

      My personal opinion about it is that Buddha rather would appeal to someone as such and such to get them into 8 fold Path, like He did with couple who was attached to themselves so much that Buddha showed a man appealing women in higher realms so his desires will drop off for human woman which in the long term he attained Nibbana (as he was told that practicing Dhamma he would be reborn in that higher realm), also there was a person who practiced Dhamma only to become beautiful but at the end of the day attained Arahanthood. I think that Buddha may appeal to someone’s humor if He sees fit in relation to Dhamma but I would not speak about Buddha so casually if it comes to the “jokes and fun” imo it’s good to cheer up rather then dwell in some depressive, unwholesome state of mind under thoughts around apayas and lower realm that may stop one from proper practice.

    • #31660
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Christian wrote, “I think that Buddha may appeal to someone’s humor”

      As far as I know, there is no evidence in the Tipitaka that such a case took place.

      So, we should not just speculate.
      – If there is evidence in the Tipitaka, then we can discuss it.

      People do not understand how serious the suffering in the rebirth process is. The Buddha said many times, not to waste a single moment. Those were his last words too.

    • #31662
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Lal said:
      “People do not understand how serious the suffering in the rebirth process is.”

      My personal experience, especially since coming to this site, is that a more serious attitude is more beneficial in learning Dhamma.

      Lal keeps emphasizing the danger of the rebirth process, and hence the urgency to get out of the 31 realms, starting with the apayā. When we learn Dhamma in this context, the concepts stick to the mind better.

      A friend of mine told me just last week something like: “I listened to a talk of Thero X; I now forget what he was talking about, but I still remember his jokes.”

      A number of theros do utilize jokes and humor in their talks. I suppose the intention is to keep the audience entertained (and thus attentive). The drawback of this approach is that it is very easy to lose sight of the future suffering, which is the crux of the matter.

    • #31663
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Cubibobi wrote, “A friend of mine told me just last week something like: “I listened to a talk of Thero X; I now forget what he was talking about, but I still remember his jokes.”

      Yes. I see that all the time. Even though one can get a bigger audience that way, it defeats the whole purpose in two ways:

      1. Keeping the audience entertained is what musicians, comedians, etc. do. That helps people relieve their daily stresses.
      – But that helps those same people bound to “this world.”
      – There is a sutta that says such “entertainers” are destined to apāyā.
      – This is the same reason that the Buddha called Māra Devaputta “immoral” (pāpi Māra)

      2. Liking “this world” and “liking Nibbāna” are mutually exclusive.
      – One CANNOT get out of this world until one realizes the dangers of remaining in this world.
      However, even after “seeing that” at the Sotapanna stage, most people have difficulty in overcoming kāma rāga or liking for sensual pleasures.
      – So, it is not helpful to draw people to “entertainment” and “worldly pleasures”
      – One should always try to contemplate the dangers of remaining in the rebirth process.

      Moreover, if one can climb over the “initial wall” by starting to see the dangers of the rebirth process, then one would get a more permanent “peace of mind”. That is “nirāmisa sukha” that is reached by overcoming the craving for sensory pleasures.
      – That is the hardest part in practice for many people. See, “Nirāmisa Sukha

      P.S. I just found the sutta mentioned in #1 above:
      Talaputa Sutta: To Talaputa the Actor

    • #31666
      y not
      Participant

      The approach of the Supreme One was a direct one- at once inviting attention, inspection and reflection. I do not read of any other approach in the whole of the Tipitaka. What better example to follow? Ven. Nagasena’s was the same in answering King Milinda’s questions. Is there any need of looking for alternatives?

      Can you imagine the Lord Buddha cracking jokes?! There are many types of ‘theros’ (lower case intentional), and so-called ‘masters’ (again).

      “to keep the audience entertained (and thus attentive”)?? I do not get it.

      Should the intention of the listeners, to be AT LAST FREE FROM ALL FUTURE SUFFERING, not be enough incentive to maintain attention? Or else, they are not fully aware of that.

    • #31668
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Just posted the sutta that I referred to in my previous comment, in that post.

    • #31669
      Lvalio
      Participant

      Lal said:

      “2. Liking “this world” and “liking Nibbāna” are mutually exclusive.”

      Exactly the point!”

      Lair

    • #31670
      Lvalio
      Participant

      I used to (had the custom) to watch certain TV series that I like very much.
      But recently always studying the Dhamma and reading Puredhamma.net, and more recently, desanas from Waharaka thero, I suddenly realized that I had lost the desire to watch TV and so I’m weeks without even to turn on the TV for news….

    • #31673
      y not
      Participant

      It augurs well, Lvalio.

      With me it is a little different. I still turn on the tv for the news,for instance. Or for a football match. But I am not interested. I cannot ‘engage’ there at all. I do it just out of habit. Dhamma is always ‘on the back burner’. And that is the reason why I cannot engage in hardly anything mundane.

      Then, with effort,sometimes days of effort, I manage to push myself in going into Dhamma actively.Like now. Once there, hours pass unnoticed. Not ‘lost’ anymore about what to do next that is meaningful and absorbing.

      May you progress on the Path

    • #31674
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The two comments you made are quite consistent.
      – You seem to be making good progress, Lvalio!

      This is an important point.
      – One CANNOT forcefully give up sensory pleasures (or anything else.)
      – The “giving-up” just HAPPENS when one realizes the unfruitfulness/dangers in continuing with those activities.

      For example, it is very difficult for a drug addict to give up drugs, or an alcoholic to give up drinking.
      – They will voluntarily give up those habits if they can see the bad consequences of those activities.

      It is a bit harder to see the hidden dangers of sensory pleasures.
      – That is why a fish will never see the dangers in biting to a tasty worm on a hook. A fish does not the ability to comprehend the hidden dangers.
      – A human, in the absence of a Buddha, would not even hear about the hidden dangers of sensory pleasures. Even when explained, it is not easy to grasp it. So, I am glad that you seem to have grasped it.

      Here is another way to see it.
      – The akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada process starts with “avijja paccaya sankhara” and INVARIABLY ends with “jati paccaya jara, marana, ..” or “the whole mass of suffering.”
      – Now, these sankhara are nothing but our thoughts, speech, and actions to get hold of things that we crave for. Those cravings are mostly for sensory pleasures.
      – They INVARIABLY end up in suffering (via bad births)
      – But since those ‘bad births” occur in future lives, it is hard to register that in mind.

      P.S.
      I saw the comment by y not after posting the above.
      – y not wrote, “I still turn on the tv for the news, for instance.”

      Yes. I do too.
      – That is a very low form of sensory pleasure. Such habits continue until the Arahant stage.
      – One first gives up (voluntarily) those activities related to hatred and excess greed.

    • #31676
      y not
      Participant

      “One first gives up (voluntarily) those activities related to hatred and excess greed.”

      Those are gone, Lal. That goes for envy as well. With hatred, I had to work on those isolated instances where I have been hard done by, and a few lingering ‘ghosts’ about racism and class distinctions. The Dhamma came to my rescue there. BUT:

      One thing where I am stuck is emotional attachments. What is more, I cannot see myself letting go of those. Is this a very subtle form of greed?

    • #31677
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not asked: “One thing where I am stuck is emotional attachments. What is more, I cannot see myself letting go of those. Is this a very subtle form of greed?”

      The best way to resolve this is to understand the meanings of Pali words for “greed”. There are very different levels of “greed.”
      Lobha is the highest form of greed. One can do “apayagami deeds” with lobha.
      – Strength from lobha reduced to raga (kama raga, rupa raga, arupa raga) at the Sotapanna Anugami stage.
      – All three levels of raga will gradually decrease as one makes progress. This is where there will be many different levels of loss of cravings for sensory pleasures.
      – In particular, kama raga (craving for sensory pleasures) will be significantly lessened at the Sakadagami stage, and disappear at the Anagami stage.
      Rupa raga (loosely, cravings for sights and sounds) and arupa raga disappear only at the Arahant stage.

      Therefore, there are different levels of “emotional attachments” corresponding to those levels of greed (loosely speaking.)
      – For example, there is a Tipitaka account of a person who became an Anagami. He had four wives.
      – After attaining the Anagami stage, he told the wives that he would consider them only as sisters and that they are free to find suitable husbands if they so desire. One wife left and married another man. The other wives told him that they will stay with him and consider him to be their older brother.
      – The point is that he did not abandon the other three wives.
      – But if he attained the Arahant stage, then it would be impossible to live with other women or even to stay a “layperson.” An Arahant needs to become a bhikkhu. An Arahant has no emotional attachments to ANYTHING in this world.

    • #31678
      y not
      Participant

      Thank you for the overview.

      By emotional attachment I mean to individual persons.

      Where there is emotional attachment there is love of one kind or another. Let us leave romantic love aside, since that is a product mostly of Western culture that has been made much of, unrealistically so too.

      Consider love for sons and daughters. That is universal. Here love and attachment are one. If attachment be a subtle form of greed, do we conclude that love is a form of greed? ! For, when one considers that that attachment, that love, also gives us pleasure – it is a pleasant feeling to love and be loved – is that love not also a means towards a pleasant feeling, pleasure? Is it therefore a subtle form of greed ?

      I am not talking about Arahants or Anagamis.

    • #31683
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Other than giving an overview, I cannot be more specific, y not.

      I explained that below the Angamai stage, it depends very much on each person.
      – Anagami and Arahant stages are much more clearcut.

      The only other thing I can say is that the more the attachment, the stronger the (future) suffering.
      – In my example of the Anagami, he totally lost one layer of attachment to his wives.
      – But he still had some attachment to them, and that is why he agreed to live with them (treating them as his sisters.)

      Everyone should think about the following. If X dies, which of the following would bring more suffering?
      X is a spouse, child, mother, father, relative, close friend, distant relative/friend, someone whom you know, a total stranger.
      – I think the answer is obvious. The more the attachment, the higher the suffering.
      – Of course, that does not mean one should forcefully lose attachment to one’s family. Things will be taken care of naturally.
      – If someone foolishly decides to cut-off his/her family BY FORCE, for example, that person would be committing an immoral act. That is why I say it will happen naturally.

    • #31684
      y not
      Participant

      “Things will be taken care of naturally”: It is not that those attachments need to be severed or loosened IN ORDER to advance on the Path; rather, progress on the Path itself will see to that. And the elimination or the weakening of attachment will itself be an indication of that progress. Yes. I see.

      Now, any defilement is a form of either greed, hate or delusion, or any pairing of the three, or of all three, to varying degrees. Would attachment then fall under a combination of mild greed/delusion? I am asking this because that has to do with those samyojanas that are weakened at the Sakadagami stage. This is what it is all about. Hate is of course out of the question. There is none of that.

      I see these attachments arising more out of delusion than greed. (Leaving aside in this context all considerations about the paying back of debts).

      Thank you

    • #31686
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Let me put this in a bit different way.

      We are bound to this world (i.e., to the rebirth process) with ten “mental tethers” or “samyojana”. That can be compared to a dog tethered to a pole with ten chains.
      The first three tethers are broken at the Sotapanna stage: Sakkaya ditthi, vicikicca, silabbata paramasa.
      – All three are about WRONG VIEWS. Thus they are tethers that are PRIMARILY related to moha.
      – However, when those three tethers are broken, the other seven also become WEAKENED.

      Thus, at the Sotapanna stage, lobha is reduced to raga (kama raga, rupa, raga, arupa raga), and dosa is reduced to patigha. The other three samyojana (mana uddacca, avijja), directly related to moha reduce too.
      – Therefore, at the Sotapanna stage, one would not have extreme greed or extreme anger (hate).
      – But HOW MUCH kama raga and patigha that one may still have, is dependent on the person.
      – Some people may lose a lot and could be very close to Sakadagami or even Anagami stage. Others may be far away from even the Sakadagami stage.

      That is why we see people with a wide range of gati (character) at the Sotapanna stage.
      – Ven Ananda was a Sotapanna at the Parinibbana of the Buddha. But obviously, he was very much at a different “level” compared to Sarakani (who was unable to give up his drinking habit) or the woman who attained the Sotapanna stage at age seven and eloped with a hunter.
      – The latter two had just barely reduced lobha to kama raga. They did not have the apayagami lobha level, but still had strong levels of kama raga.
      – But of course, all three had “seen” the dangers of kama raga and patigha and the other samyojana.

      This is also why it is impossible for anyone else to decide whether one is a Sotapanna. Only that person would know. Even that person may not be certain until life experiences confirm that conclusion.

    • #31687
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Lal said:
      “– Of course, that does not mean one should forcefully lose attachment to one’s family. Things will be taken care of naturally.”

      I’d like to flip this around and ask about a specific experience to see if anyone went through it.

      In my culture, when someone young turns toward Dhamma, it tends to make someone in the family nervous (often times a parent). It is critical for us to achieve mundane success (the more the better) to have a stable life for ourselves and to make the family shine with relatives and society.

      We may start reading Dhamma books, going to temple, listening to desanas, and it may make a parent alarmed, although we haven’t relinquished anything outwardly yet. They then dissuade us from going “further” in that direction, and the relationship may become tense. Since they don’t think of, or don’t believe in, rebirths, they are not aware that they want us to lead a life that lengthens samsara.

      If we remain resolute (inwardly) toward Dhamma, then with time will relationships that appear to be an obstacle now transform into supporting ones, according to “Dhammo ha ve rakkhati dhammacari”?

      Has anyone experienced this?

      Many thanks!

    • #31688
      Lvalio
      Participant

      And how to proceed if you have already lost attachment to this world, became a Sakanagami and cannot simply let yourself die (not suicide), but has many responsibilities still with wife,son, or brothers or people who depend on you, children, pets that cannot support yourself if you leave this mute, even though it is very difficult for you to accept the things of this world, things of the human kingdom …
      And if you go to the Anagami stage the things go worst????
      It is a big problem…

    • #31690
      y not
      Participant

      Dhamma (in its sense of Dhammata) takes care of all this.

      Lang states that at the very end, but, in my case, the bit about relatives, children coming in the way does not apply. All my (mundane) responsibilities in that direction were already fulfilled by the time I entered the Path. Where there are still those responsibilities to contend with, it is certain that Dhammata has the solution. Have no fear.

      Again, Lvalio, how to proceed if I “have lost attachment to this human world, became a…” but I CAN simply let myself die (because my duties to those to whom I owed dues have been fulfilled.) So it makes no difference to me whether I die tomorrow or today and be rid of human existence once and for all. Important is to ever keep mindfulness, even if passively,if the energy is not always there.

    • #31691
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Cubibobi wrote: “In my culture, when someone young turns toward Dhamma, it tends to make someone in the family nervous (often times a parent).”

      Yes. That is quite common.
      – I guess those parents do not comprehend the suffering in the rebirth process.
      – Even at the time of the Buddha, many were concerned about too many young people becoming bhikkhus.

      That is why it is hard for many people to embrace the true Dhamma.
      – They just want to live a “happy life”, do meritorious deeds, and get rebirth in a Deva realm.
      – In fact, that is exactly what many Buddhists wish for, unfortunately.
      – They do not realize that all those “happy lives” INVARIABLY end up leading to rebirth in the apayas.

      As for proceeding on the Path, one will know what to do when the time comes. Each person is different.
      – For example, Gatikara became an Anagami. He did not become a bhikkhu because he wanted to take care of his aging parents. Another bhikkhu at the time of the Buddha saw that his parents were going hungry. He started offering part of his meals that receives to his parents and the Buddha approved that.
      – I personally know someone in Sri Lanka, who became a bhikkhu recently. He was an engineer and had a wife and two children. He worked overtime for a while to make sure he left enough money for his family before becoming a bhikkhu.

    • #31692
      Lvalio
      Participant

      Thank you to lal and Y not. The part of that answer is for tomorrow…

      Talk with a doctor
      Doctor: as I remember having read once, there was a poor family person, but
      this kid was a kid who had intelligence so that his parents and brothers thought he would be able to study and graduate. Then the parents and brothers all opened their hands to study for manage to save money to pay for this kid’s studies all went through many difficulties.
      This kid then went to college, studied Dhamma and felt deep inspiration
      in the Dhamma. When he finished his studies it happened that …, the father, the mother and all the others had great hope that when he was formed he would support the family, he would be able to work and make money by helping the younger brothers or helping to share the burden of father and mother, or that is, the father and mother would be able to rest a little so that they could help their younger children later, but it happened that this kid when he finished his studies was very inspired by the Dhamma to the point of asking for license from the father and mother not to go to work, wanted to ordain himself monk. Father and Mother, they cried and tried to stop but the son said he had a lot of faith in the Buddha’s religion, “Don’t imped me!”
      In the end the parents had to give permission for the son to become a monk, but from my point of view, as far as I’ve read and heard, I feel like they’re probably….(the complete text is too long…)
      Anumodana
      Lair

    • #31693
      Lvalio
      Participant

      I had miss something:
      “I will put here a text that was reported on a site Theravada by a Brazilian Bhikkhu (Theravada) (Ajahn Mudito) who translated the text straight from the recording tape to the Portuguese. The English translation is from word… The master is Ajahn Chah (deceased more than 20 years ago). The Brazilian Monastery is also of this tradition (Thailand)”
      Thank you again to Y not and Lal
      Anumodana,
      Lair

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