Religion has been missing one very fundamental quality: the sense of humour. It’s unfortunate, because it has made religion sick.
A sense of humour is an essential part of the wholeness of man. It keeps us healthy, young, and fresh. And for centuries the sad people have dominated religion. They have expelled laughter — from churches, mosques, and from temples. The day laughter enters back into the holy places they will be really holy, because they will be whole.
Laughter is the only quality that distinguishes man from other animals. Only man can see the ridiculous, the absurd. Only he has the capacity and the consciousness to be aware of the cosmic joke that existence is. It is a cosmic joke; it is not a serious affair.
Seriousness is a disease, but seriousness has been praised, respected, honoured. It was absolutely essential to be serious to be a saint; hence only, people who were incapable of laughter became interested in religion. And people who are incapable of laughter are not human yet — what to say about their being divine? That is impossible — they have not yet become human. Hence I have tremendous respect for the sense of humour, for laughter.
Laughter is far more sacred than prayer, because prayer can be done by any one. Laughter requires intelligence, it requires presence of mind, a quickness of seeing into things. A joke cannot be explained: either you understand it or you miss it. If it is explained it loses the whole point; hence no joke can be explained. Either you get it immediately or you can try to find out the meaning of it; you will find out the meaning, but the joke will not be there. It was in the immediacy.
Humour needs presence, utter presence. It is not a question of analysis, it is a question of insight.
To be able to laugh, you need to be like a child — egoless. And when you laugh, suddenly laughter is there, you are not. You come back when the laughter is gone. When the laughter is disappearing, when it is subsiding, you come back, the ego comes back. But in the very moment of laughter you have a glimpse of egolessness.
There are only two activities in which you can feel egolessness easily. One is laughter, another is dancing. Dancing is a physiological method, a bodily method to feel egolessness. When the dancer is lost in his dance he is no more — there is only dance. Laughter is a little more subtle than dance, it is a little more inner, but it has also the same fragrance. When you laugh…. it has to be a belly laughter.
Laugh so that your whole body, your whole being becomes involved, and suddenly there will be a glimpse. For the moment the past disappears, the future, the ego, everything disappears — there is only laughter. And in that moment of laughter you will be able to see the whole of existence laughing.
Lao Tzu had a sense of humour. Maybe because of that he could not become the founder of a great religion. He used to ride a buffalo. Now, couldn’t he find a horse? Anybody could have afforded at least a donkey — but a buffalo…? And that too, sitting backwards! The buffalo is going one way and Lao Tzu is looking the other way. He must have created laughter wherever he passed. Life is not a tragedy, it is a comedy!