IF you are possessed by laughter, thinking stops. And if you know a few moments of no-mind, those glimpses will promise you many more rewards that are going to come. You just have to become more and more of the sort, of the quality, of no-mind. More and more, thinking has to be dropped. Laughter can be a beautiful introduction to a non-thinking state. And the beauty is.... There are methods — for example, you can concentrate on a flame or on a black dot, or you can concentrate on a mantra, but the greater possibility is that by the time the mind is disappearing you will start feeling sleepy, you will fall asleep. Because before the mind disappears there open two alternatives: sleep — sushupti — and samadhi: sleep and satori.
In a few Zen monasteries, every monk has to start his morning with laughter, and has to end his night with laughter — the first thing and the last thing! You try it. It is very beautiful. It will look a little crazy — mm? — because so many serious people are all around. They will not understand. If you are happy, they always ask why. The question is foolish! If you are sad, they never ask why. They take it for granted — if you are sad, it’s okay. Everybody is sad. What is new in it? Even if you want to tell them, they are not interested because they know all about it, they themselves are sad. So what is the point of telling a long story? — cut it short! But if you are laughing for no reason, then they become alert — something has gone wrong. This man seems to be a little crazy because only crazy people enjoy laughter; only in madhouses will you find crazy people laughing. This is unfortunate, but this is so.
Laughter is prayer. If you can laugh you have learnt how to pray. Don’t be serious; a serious person can never be religious. Only a person who can laugh, not only at others but at himself also, can be religious. A person who can laugh absolutely, who sees the whole ridiculousness and the whole game of life, becomes enlightened in that laughter. It is said that when Hotei attained enlightenment he started laughing. He lived at least thirty years afterwards; he continued laughing for thirty years. Even in sleep his disciples would hear him giggling. His whole message to the world was laughter; he would go from one town to another just laughing. He would stand in one marketplace, then in another, just laughing, and people would gather. His laughter had something of the beyond — a Buddha’s laughter. He is known in Japan as ‘the laughing Buddha’.
His laughter was so contagious that whosoever heard it would start laughing. Soon the whole marketplace would be laughing; crowds would gather and laugh and they would ask him, “Just give us a few instructions.” He would say, “Nothing more, this is enough. If you can laugh, if you can laugh totally, it is meditation.” Laughter was his device. It is said many people became enlightened through Hotei’s laughter. That was his only meditation: to laugh and help people laugh.
Laughter is one of the things most repressed by society all over the world, in all the ages. Society wants you to be serious. Parents want their children to be serious, teachers want their students to be serious, the bosses want their servants to be serious, the commanders want their armies to be serious. Seriousness is required of everybody. Laughter is dangerous and rebellious.
When the teacher is teaching you and you start laughing, it will be taken as an insult. Your parents are saying something to you and you start laughing — it will be taken as an insult. Seriousness is thought to be honor, respect. Naturally laughter has been repressed so much that even though life all around is hilarious, nobody is laughing. If your laughter is freed from its chains, from its bondage, you will be surprised — on each step there is something hilarious happening.
Life is not serious. Only graveyards are serious, death is serious. Life is love, life is laughter, life is dance, song. But we will have to give life a new orientation. The past has crippled life very badly, it has made you almost laughter blind, just like there are people who are colourblind.