This site is about Buddha and Darwin so I will restrict this page to relevant bits about humour.
Buddha said, allegedly, that you should not tell jokes. This sounds difficult to grasp although we probably all know jokes which could be construed as cruel. I actually understand this in relation to the philosophy that all life is suffering. If you can grasp that concept, which is difficult I know, you can see that jokes are not really as great as we generally think.
My Darwinist side says that all life is trying to make a better place for itself. To adapt and in mankind’s case, to invent cures and pleasures etc.
These are stark contrasts but since my moment of bliss was an experience of laughter I do not think the two are irreconcilable.
The key to the paradox is to let inhibitions go in your thinking , (there was a Guinness beer advert on television in the past which contained the line “Keep an open mind and you will learn dark secrets”), but keep a lid on how much you say. During my late teens I would have moments of uncontrollable giggling, partly due to the effect of the mild form of pot that was available in those days, ~(see the Drugs page). I could never really establish what I was laughing at, much to the amusement of others. I still do have moments of laughter but it is often inhibited, as rooted in a known joke or humourous situation. In general I wold say that my experience is that humour which is inappropriate passes through your mind and resolves itself, but if you speak it someone will think bad of you, (in fact Jesus warned that “as you speak so will you be judged” and while I don’t believe in being judgmental I do recognise that such is an elementary factor in human existence). The resolution of the humour which is inappropriate, if you resist it, can be a political determination to help those who suffer in the world more than one would expect.
I have difficulty recapturing that youthful uninhibited laughter. When I joined, as a student, a part- time branch of the military I felt less serious, possibly because it is a self-parody to join seeking preservation of a way of life when you are putting your own life on the line instead of demanding someone else do it. The military personnel make jokes, I believe, to try to relieve some of the stress of thinking about combat. This makes them happier and more able to cope with their survival strategy.
Satire can be positive humour such as Gilbert and Sullivan musicals which satirised nineteenth century England and I enjoy Monty Python’s etc.
I thought I would quote some female humour and wit before divulging what made me laugh in recent years.
Helen Rowland:- “When you see what some girls marry, you realize how they must hate to work for a living” and “There are moments when the meanest of women may feel a sisterly sympathy for her husband’s first wife”
Jane Austen “Elinor was pleased that he had called; and still more pleased that she had missed him”
As an opposite of the celebration of female wit, (the Penguin Book of Women’s Humour” is a good volume for more of the above), I offer the following:
A boy says to his dad, “Dad, my philosophy homework is to write an essay on the difference between potential and reality”
His father says “Go and ask your mother and your sister if there is anybody they would sleep with for a million pounds then get back to me”
The boy asks his mother and she says “No, I love your father but for a million pounds I suppose Robert Redford would be alright”
The boy asks his sister and she replies “Not really but maybe Robbie Williams”
The boy then returns to his father who asks “So son do you now understand the difference between potential and reality”
The boy replies, “Yes I think I do dad:........
Potentially we are 2 million pounds up”......
“but in reality.............................
we are living with a right pair of slags”
Don’t ask me why, but maybe because so many religions and philosophies have passed through my head, that joke makes me laugh over and over again. Possibly too, that it was told to me by a couple I know who are so obviously in love and happy together.
But I would advise listening to what Buddha says, not me if you seriously want to ponder all things. Certainly before I reached a moment of bliss I was more a child of the hippie “love” scene than a comedian and humour was only to pass the time. Loving relationships were more important to me.
There is an interesting joke which perhaps illustrates a point I have tried to make about some religions actively appearing to inhibit their followers so that they cannot understand open reasoning, for instance, but science only where applicable to their religion’s success. The story is that all the parts and organs of the body were trying to debate which was the greatest among them. All the obvious one’s thought they were in the running for the consensus opinion, the heart, the brain, the genitals etc. However, in the end, the anus won because by clamping shut for days the body suffered extreme constipation. The God of the Jews and Christians in one of his commandments says, “Thou shalt have no other God’s but me”. If, as I suspect, there is a competition for control of the spiritual world as there is for the material world between types like domineering autocrats and generous democrats, then there are reasons Jahweh would win. For instance, looking at the Koran and the Bible, it is clear the law is the fundamental and obedience a pre-requisite. I have stated elsewhere that the law is, in reality, a convenience for an evolving Darwinistic society, not an absolute of the universe. But if, as Gabriel said to Elijah, “We know when to release devils”. Then any other attempting to be a God who did not believe in the law, could possibly have devils released among his or her followers when the law was not followed. So extreme discomfort is experienced by those who like to allow a little anarchy, eg. the French revolutionaries, disagreeing with Jahweh. Thus God is perhaps respected as simply as all organs must respect the anus in the analogous joke. That the one who can cause others the most discomfort wins the argument as to who is best. In reality of course many sincere Muslims believe their God does exactly respect all people despite his omnipotence so as often in this site, I have chosen the darker interpretations of a suspicious mind, to illustrate the difference between faith which sees the best of God, and potential, which acknowledges there may be other factors at play. For instance why does an omnipotent God claim “Heaven is under attack” in the Koran.
Looking at that joke more closely it unfortunately becomes a licence for torture, such as the Inquisition, or the regime of Saddam Hussein, both of which are appalling examples of the, “anus” in the material world.
It was interesting for me that when I was in Denmark in 1977, just before I left, the man who had shouted out the window of the youth hotel at me after I had packed my bags and left. He was like someone throwing a curse, (in fact he was the son of the Prime Minister, Anker, called Leonard Jørgensen,), when he shouted “Confusion”, at me. Days earlier he had been named as “that arsehole” by a Dutch man working at Huset called Klass, just a few days before. I certainly suffered a lot of pain and mental anguish because of what was done at the Rebecca Ø Fest and the reactionary and angry attitudes of some people in Copenhagen after. As the effect of what was done at the festival was a bit like electronically jamming my brain the analogy of being bunged up in your head with waste material, as an anus would cause the rest of the body to be, is a good one.
One last remark, this time on the film “Borat” by Sacha Cohen to illustrate how cunning humour can lead your mind astray from the path of Buddha and compassion. This is supposed to be a very funny film, though I have not seen it in full. I have laughed at Sacha’s characters myself in the past. However, the question might be is the humour cruel or mis-directed. There is for instance a scene in that film where he encourages USA citizens to join him in a chorus of “Throw a Jew down the well”. Blinkered British liberal left wing commentators are likely to report this as superb bit of comedy exposing the US Christians for what they are, bigots. The truth is somewhat different. I could go to the West Bank of the Jordan, dressed as a Hassidic folk song singer from Stamford Hill in London England and get the fundamental Jews there to sing “Throw a Palestinian on the fire” or equally in Sudan, I could, dressed as a travelling Berber musician, get the Islamic militia round a camp fire singing “Rape a Darfur girl in front of her mother”. It is not then quite so funny as Sacha or liberals would like us to believe or as well directed. In the US you can find bigots who will employ the very targets of their bigotry to help them live their dream, but in Sudan and the West Bank the bigotry is closed and difficult to moderate.
<<See the page under this one about separating reality and humour for how to include humour in a Buddho-Darwinist life style.>>