Humor in The Pali Canon

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Kamran
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Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Kamran » Sat Jul 25, 2015 3:53 pm

A new eBook from Ven. Thanissaro:

The Buddha Smiles: Humor in The Pali Canon
http://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index. ... ddhaSmiles" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Pali Canon has a reputation for being humorless.

There is the famous verse in the Dhp 146 that seems aimed at
squelching all forms of merriment:

What laughter, why joy,
when constantly aflame?
Enveloped in darkness,
don’t you look for a lamp?

And then there’s the fact that the Buddha himself rarely smiles in the
Canon, and when he does, the reasons for his smile are never hilarious.

Still, the Canon’s reputation for being devoid of humor is undeserved. It’s
there in the Canon, but it often goes unrecognized.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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Dhamma_Basti
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Dhamma_Basti » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:12 pm

Yes there are a couple of great funny passages, but most of the time the subtle humor of these words is difficult for us to grasp because we are devoid of the right context.
To be honest I feel that the Pali-Canon is full of great satire when it comes to brahmanical lifestyle of the time. Compared with other indian treaties of the time the teachings ascribed to the Buddha in my eyes offer quite a nice understanding of humor.
A few examples:
1.The frequent notion of false view according to "this is me, this is mine, this is myself" - it is hillarous if you assume that the Buddha knew the upanisadic 'tat tvam asi' - rendered as "you are this - the universe, brahman and everything"

2. The fact that the Buddha frequently uses key brahmanic terms such as dharma, karma, brahman and so on but usually turns their meaning adding his own, totally different understanding making them still work in a similar manner is also wonderful. Read a few chapters of the Dhamasastra, then turn to the Pali-canon and afterwards go back to the Dharmasastra - it is :thumbsup: Must have been a great time of debate and dispute back in those times when these wordplays where still fresh and the people directly understood them

3. In relation to two theres a great story in the Khandhaka section of the vinaya, where a brahmin approaches the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. He asks the Buddha what the qualities of an enlighented person is and replies in 100% brahmanical language "someone who has fullfilled all the goals of a brahmin" (wich are by the way in this context pretty identical to the buddhist terms, if you presume their different interpretation as described in point two). The great god Brahma, sitting on a cloud somewhere above the two is so impressed that he comes down immediately and bows down to receive the teaching of the Buddha. ;)

Actually there are quite a lot of these plays of word and meaning in the canon, challenging the brahmanical birth-myth (the caste of brahma claims to be born from the mouth of the first human being) in the agganna-Sutta with the statement: "How can brahmins say they are born of Brahma's mouth, when we can all see that they are born from the wombs of thei womenfolk, who have periods, become pregnant, give birth and give suck?"
And then of course he offers his own teaching of purity, wich again uses the same terms as the brahmans use, but with a clear focus on mental purification and not on ritual cleanliness.
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waterchan
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by waterchan » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:53 pm

See this thread: Ten funniest scenes from the Pali Canon

Also, the Pali Canon is not humorless as you say. But most people aren't aware of the humor as it is tucked away in the Vinaya.

dhammarelax
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by dhammarelax » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:05 pm

One passage I thought of being humorous is when the Buddha is asked by a king if some ascetics passing by are arhants, and his reply was that he needed long time to be sure of that, then is revealed that those ascetics were Kings spies disguised returning from a mission in the country side.

My thinking was that given the magical abilities of the Buddha he would have known they were not even real ascetics and his reply was a mocking of the king who wanted to test him.

smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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waterchan
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by waterchan » Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:50 am

From the Vinaya:

https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-kd15
Now at that time the Lord, surrounded by a large assembly, was teaching dhamma sitting down. A certain monk had eaten garlic; he sat down to one side, thinking: “In case the monks are incommoded.” The Lord saw that monk who was sitting down at one side; seeing him, he addressed the monks, saying: “Monks, why is this monk sitting to one side?”

“Lord, this monk has eaten garlic, so he sat down at one side, thinking: ‘In case the monks are incommoded’.”

“But, monks, should that be eaten which, when eaten, can (make the eater) outside such a dhamma-talk as this?”

“That is not so, Lord.”

“Monks, garlic should not be eaten. Whoever should eat it, there is an offence of wrong-doing.”

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dhammacoustic
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by dhammacoustic » Sun Jul 26, 2015 8:06 am

DN 11, Kevaḍḍha Sutta wrote: The monk approached the Great Brahma and said, 'Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

A second time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, 'Friend, I didn't ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.'

"A second time, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

"A third time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, 'Friend, I didn't ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.'

"Then the Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm...
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:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

Dinsdale
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:08 am

Kamran wrote:Still, the Canon’s reputation for being devoid of humor is undeserved. It’s
there in the Canon, but it often goes unrecognized.
I wish the Buddha had told more jokes though. :tongue:
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Kare
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Kare » Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:49 pm

A funny story is the one about Akkosaka (Akkosasutta, Samyutta Nikaya 1, 7, 1, 2 (PTS 1, 161)).

A brahman comes to the Buddha and abuses him. The Buddha just sits there quietly until the brahman is finished. Then he says:
"If you want to give a gift, and the other person says 'No, thank you', who is then the owner of the gift?"
"Then it is mine. I'll keep it."
"That's right. And I say 'No, thank you', to your abuse. I do not want to receive the gift. So who is then the owner of it?"
Mettāya,
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Kamran
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Kamran » Sun Jul 26, 2015 8:37 pm

Below is a reading of Akkosa Sutta (Abuse) :)

What is your best response when someone is angry with you? Hint: if you offer some food to a guest, but the guest declines the offer, to whom does the food belong?

http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/sn07.002.medh.mp3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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Pondera
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by Pondera » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:56 pm

DN24 is funny. A dead ascetic wakes up. A meat eating, beer drinking ascetic fails to keep his promises, and an ascetic who challenges the Buddha to a miracle stand off can't rise from his seat. On lookers ask "are your hams glued to the seat or is the seat glued to your hams?" A real riot, that one!

dhammarelax
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Re: Humor in The Pali Canon

Post by dhammarelax » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:12 pm

Another bit that I found to be funny is in MN 38 when Sati is asked by the Blessed One, "Sati is it true that the following pernicious view has arisen in you..." and his response is "Exactly so Venerable sir..." :smile:

some interesting parts from "The Buddha Smiles" by Thanissaro Bhikku

"They make a point. In the case of the deva-hierarchy, the repetition brings home the message that even though an organization may be large and impressive, it can still be full of ignorance."

"Most religions treat supernatural beings with a great deal of respect—in fact, many give these beings the highest form of worship, and regard knowledge from divine sources as the highest and most reliable form of wisdom. However, in the Buddha’s view of the cosmos, none of these beings are worthy of worship. They are born into those states and fall from those states in line with their kamma, often without having gained any special insight or knowledge. In fact, their knowledge is inferior to the Buddha’s."

"The point of the satire, of course, is that the Great Brahmā is a vain, pompous fraud."

smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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