Jokes are dangerous

Discourses Osho on Laughter

Osho answers a question from Anand Satyam.


Your jokes make me afraid and confused. Please tell me one of Buddha’s sutras about God.

P.S. I’m leaving for Italy tomorrow. Thank you.

Osho dressed as pasha

Anand Satyam,

I can understand — jokes are dangerous. That’s why no Master before me has ever touched them. But I love danger. Jokes have a tremendous beauty if you can allow them to enter into your very innermost core. No sutras can reach there, because when you are hearing a sutra you start falling asleep. It is very difficult to keep oneself awake hearing sutras for the simple reason that sutras are serious, dry, like the desert. How long can you look at the desert? Sooner or later you will start yawning, because it is the same desert going up to the very horizon — on all sides it is all sand and sand and sand, and the scene is exactly the same. The sutras are exactly the same; they are desertlike. They create sleep: they function like lullabies. If you suffer from sleeplessness, then reading a few sutras of Buddha or Patanjali will be very helpful. Just read a few sutras — you are bound to fall asleep. When all tranquilizers fail, sutras work.

That’s what the hypnotists go on doing: they simply repeat a certain sutra. Anything repeated again and again creates such boredom that you have to escape from it. And the easiest escape is into sleep.

Mulla Nasruddin suffered very much from sleeplessness. All efforts failed — all the tranquilizers, the sleeping pills; nothing worked. His sons were getting very worried. Finally they found a hypnotist who said, “Don’t worry, I will come tonight.” And he came, and he started simply repeating: “You are falling asleep…”
Nasruddin was lying down on the bed with closed eyes, the lights were out, and the hypnotist was repeating again and again, “You are falling asleep… your eyelids are becoming heavier, heavier, heavier… you are falling asleep, falling asleep, falling asleep… a deep sleep is taking over…”
Nasruddin started snoring. The hypnotist tiptoed out of the room.
The sons were very happy. They handed him double his fees, thanked him very much. They went in to see. Nasruddin opened one of his eyes and said, “Has that idiot left yet or not? He would have killed me, hence I had to pretend! That snoring was just false. I was faking it so that he would leave me!”

Sutras are boring. That’s why only old people who are already dead go to religious discourses. You can see them in all the churches and temples.

When people come to visit this ashram they are surprised to see so many young people. It is unbelievable because young people are not supposed to be in such places. Only old people, dead, rotten, leading some kind of posthumous existence, are supposed to be in such places. So many young people — what are these young people doing here? They are not here for the sutras, Satyam. I am here for the sutras, they are not here for the sutras. So we have made a compromise: they have to listen to a few sutras and I have to tell a few jokes. They will be here for the jokes, I am here for the sutras! If I stop telling jokes, they will disappear. If I have to tell only jokes, I will not be needed. I can leave a big collection of jokes and Teertha can read the jokes; there will be no need for me to be here. If you want me to be here you will have to hear a few sutras, and if I want you to be here, I have to tell a few jokes too. This is understood, this is a contract.

Jokes are tremendously important in a way. Jokes are not simple phenomena; they are really mysterious, their mechanism is mysterious. You don’t know how a joke works, how it goes deep into your depths, how it brings laughter to you, how it brings wakefulness to you. The mechanism is mysterious.

A joke functions almost like a sexual orgasm. It is not accidental that many jokes are concerned with sex. Jokes as such are basically sexual for the simple reason that the joke creates a build-up of energy in you, a great curiosity about what is going to happen, because a joke is a joke only when something unexpected happens, when it takes such a sudden turn that logically you could not have conceived it; it was inconceivable. And it takes the turn so quickly and so suddenly that it does not give you time enough to think about it. Because there is no time to think… Mind needs time. The joke goes on towards the south and then suddenly turns towards the north: your mind goes on moving towards the south, but the joke has taken a turn towards the north so suddenly that the mind halts. In that very halt there is an experience of silence, of meditation.

The same happens in sexual orgasm: a certain energy is built up in you, a certain tension is built up in you. You go on moving upwards, upwards, upwards, and then comes a sudden relaxation, a sudden release. It is so sudden — it happens in a single moment — the mind stops, the mind disappears for a moment. It is not conceivable for the mind. The mind needs time.

If you understand the joke you will miss the whole point. If you can understand where it is going, what the logical end of it will be, then it will not be a joke for you. Whatsoever you understand from the very beginning is not going to be the end; the end is going to be absolutely unpredictable.

That’s the beauty of a joke; it shocks you, shakes you, it wakes you up. It is impossible to remain asleep when a beautiful joke is being told.

Buddha goes on telling his disciples, “Wake up!” What is the need? I simply tell a joke and they wake up! And that is far more existential.

An aircraft bound for Florida with two hundred and forty passengers on board ran into some engine problem. The plane was sure to crash so the pilot alerted all the crew members about this sad state of affairs and told them all to get hold of a parachute each and jump off the plane.
A young steward asked the captain, “What about the passengers, sir?”
“Fuck the passengers!” the captain replied.
Said the steward, “What! Do we have time for that?”

You say, Satyam: Your jokes make me afraid…

Because they must be shattering many things in you. You must be thinking religion is serious. It is not — at least my vision of religion is not serious at all. My religion is rooted in playfulness, in non-seriousness; sincere, of course, but serious, never. My religion is laughter, love. It is not renunciation, it is rejoicing.

I am not concerned with God at all, and you are asking me for one of Buddha’s sutras about God. In fact, Buddha never believed in God; he has no sutra about God. Buddha is absolutely atheistic in that sense: he never believed in God. Buddha was not so childish as to believe in God the Father who created the world and who lives in heaven. These are all fictions, fairy tales.

Every month St. Peter and Lucifer meet to divide the newly arrived souls between them.
“What is your name?” St. Peter asks.
“Karl Marx,” replies a white-bearded soul.
“Ah! You are an atheist. Therefore you will be going to hell.”
The next month, to St. Peter’s great amazement, Lucifer is late. This had never happened before. After a few hours Lucifer arrives in a horrible state — one of his horns is broken, his tail is burnt, his complexion is pale.
“What is the matter with you?” St. Peter asks.
“Oh my God! That Marx, you know? He has created fucking hell! He began by complaining that it was too hot, and then that there was not enough air and then that the place was unhealthy. To make a long story short, after a few strikes, protests and demonstrations, I had to follow air conditioning, massages in the breaks between torture sessions, thermostats to keep the heating system under control! Peter, I am at a loss. Help me! Could you take care of him for the next month to give me some space?”
“What! Marx in heaven! Have you gone crazy or what?”
“Do it for my sake, Peter! Remember, we have been friends for eternity!”
“But I just cannot!” replies St. Peter. “Marx amongst all the angels and saints! Can you imagine it?”
“One month only, Peter, please.”
“Well, okay. Just because you are my friend I will keep him — but for one month only!”
Next month St. Peter and Lucifer are both punctual. Lucifer eagerly asks, “So, Peter, how are things going?”
“Oh, fine thanks, Lucifer.”
“Fine? What about Marx?”
“Oh, that Marx! Nice chap!”
“You mean he did not raise any protest?”
“Oh never! We had many pleasant discussions together. He is a cultured man.”
“Indeed? But what does God say?”
“Oh, come on, Lucifer, You know God doesn’t exist!”

Satyam, Buddha has not sutras about God. He was the first mature religious person in the whole world. He talks in terms of maturity, not in terms of childishness.

And you say: I am leaving for Italy tomorrow…

Then it will be good if you take this joke with you:

Two village boys from Sicily go to visit their cousin in New York. On the third day of being shown around downtown New York they somehow get separated from the cousin. After looking for him for a few hours they finally end up in a police station.
“Please-a, sir, can-a you fin-a our cousin?”
“What’s his name?” the police officer asks.
“Gino who?”
“Don’t-a know-a.”
“Where does he live?”
“In New York-a.”
“What does he look like?”
“A man-a.”
“Where did you lose him?”
“Don’t-a know-a.”
“Is there anything special about his features? A flat nose? One eye? Something like that?”
The two boys think hard but sadly shake their heads. Then the face of one brightens slowly and he says “Ah, yes-a sir, he has-a two assholes!”
“Two assholes!” exclaims the policeman “Are you sure? How do you know?”
“Well-a,” replies the boy, “every time we go to eat-a spaghetti or dance-a at the disco, his friends say-a, ‘Look! There’s Gino with-a the two-a assholes!'”

Satyam, go to Italy, but come back soon, because the whole of Italy has come here! All the juicy people have disappeared from Italy; they are here.

Just the other day I was reading a newspaper report from Italy about so many young people, young men and women, having disappeared from Italy that the government has become concerned about what is happening to them. They need not be concerned, they need not go anywhere to look for them, they can come here — they are all here! Either they have come or they are on the way, but they are all going to end up here. What will you be doing there Satyam? Come back soon — as soon as possible!

Italy will look very non-Italian to you. We have made a compact Italy here, and far more juicy! Slowly slowly my jokes will help you to come to your senses; they will help you to come out of your confusion. There is nothing more healthy than a good laughter, there is nothing more sane than a good laughter. Laughter is very vital.

I would like my sannyasins to be laughing sannyasins. I would like the world to know my people as the most laughing, dancing, singing people. I don’t want any sad, serious-looking people here. I don’t want any long faces here. Yes, when you come you come with a long face, but then I have to hit you and sooner or later you lose your mask — because that is only a mask.

No child is born with a long face; every child is born with laughter, with a great joy which is ready to explode. We destroy his joy. My effort here is to release that joy again, to bring your childhood back to you.

Osho, Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 1 Ch 10 Q 5

Gossip: friends say that the joke of St. Peter and Marx had been sent in by Satyam together with the question.

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