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Cosmic Jokes, Teaching Buddhism, and The Dharma of Chris Rock

Oh, Chris Rock, I bow to you. A friend of mine was recently dating a stand-up comedian, and we were talking about the similarities between teaching Buddhism and stand-up, at least when teaching in a group. Sometimes it definitely feels like giving a dharma talk dangerously borders on a seated stand-up routine, with some tools for living thrown in as a nice take-home party favor. I often hear my internal voice channeling Jerry Seinfeld as I listen to myself speak: "And what's the deal with SAMSARA????"

Chogyam Trungpa liked the term "Cosmic Joke." There are many ways to think about what this means, but I like to focus on the cosmic joke in two ways, both of which could lead either to A) deep depression or B) an amazing and well-timed sense of humor.  First, the whole path is about trying to get to somewhere we already are - the present moment. Second of all, there is no real outcome, since whatever we celebrate or achieve ultimately falls apart. The cosmic joke is a good way to get a little playful in the space of ultimate reality. This whole journey is just hilarious. For real.

On a more practical level, on the level of getting through each day with compassion, the dharma is about pointing out our cognitive dissonance and hypocrisies regarding the views we hold about ourselves, our actions, and the world. Hypocrisy is painful, but it's also universally human, which makes it more tragicomedy than tragedy. The insightful revelation of hypocrisy and irony within our everyday experience and our everyday actions should always, always be funny. Otherwise the path becomes a cross to bear and a funeral dirge. These precise revelations of irony and hypocrisy are the work of good comedians.

It's no accident that during recent difficulties, late at night when all the practice and work is done, I have found myself watching clips of stand-up to make peace with the day, to make peace with the ironies of the heart. I've always been a fan of Chris Rock, possibly the contemporary American Guru of stand-up. Perhaps he should be called not a Rinpoche but the Rock-oche, if that's not too blasphemous towards the Tibetan system. Below are a few of his most dharmic quotes. Feel free to leave your own favorite stand-up quotes below.

And whatever you do remember that if you aren't laughing, you aren't living.

Chris Rock on the true nature of impermanence and karma:

“You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it's your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You're probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you're gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.”

On the samsaric nature of relationships:

“You can either be married and bored, or single and lonely. AIN'T NO HAPPINESS NOWHERE.”

On nonviolence:

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. We need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars… five thousand dollars per bullet… You know why? Cause if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.  Yeah! Every time somebody get shot we’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something ... Shit, he’s got fifty thousand dollars worth of bullets in his ass.’ And people would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your fucking head off…if I could afford it.’ ‘I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway.’

On comedy and the cosmic joke:

“Comedy is the blues for people who can’t sing.” 

On wealth:

“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it's about having a lot of options.” 

On democracy:

""They don't want you to vote. If they did, we wouldn't vote on a Tuesday. In November. You ever throw a party on a Tuesday? No. Because nobody would come."

On cognitive dissonance in politics:

"If you vote against Obama because he can’t get stuff done, it’s kind of like saying ‘This guy can’t cure cancer. I’m gonna vote for cancer."

(Follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter, Check out his books, or upcoming online courses he is teaching at IDP)

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Rock became a cast member of

Rock became a cast member of the popular sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1990. He and other new cast members Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade became known as the Bad Boys of SNL In 1991, he released his first comedy album, Born Suspect and won acclaim for his dramatic role as a crack addict in the film New Jack City. His tenure on SNL gave Rock national exposure.
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Hindi Jokes

Unique and Creative collection of Funny Jokes which gives strength to your words.Shayri is a unique poetis language to express yourself,Shayri ko hi dil ki kalam aur mohabbat ki ink kehte hain.Hindi Jokes

humor during dharma talks

after becoming exposed to ajahn brahm, i once asked some monks when humor can be skilfully employed during a dharma talk. it can be very tricky, they said. there is no black and white, even in the perception of one's own intention.

of course, chris rock is no dharma teacher, and yet he is.

the more my practice evolves, the more i see that it is not about 'employing humor' as much as it is living with an awakened, compassionate and kind heart.

laughter is automatic. irony cannot be avoided.

for example, here is a video clip of pema chodron in a very humorous talk: http://whatisinsight.com/dharma-talks/what-is-mindfulness/

The Cosmic Joke & the Game of Life

Those of us compelled to create comedy are guided by the Cosmic Joke. We see the absurdity of our existence but rather than bemoan it, we find the funny.

The tradition of the wise foole exists throughout history in many cultures because the foole dares to speak truth to power. And manages to survive. The foole leads by example and empowers others to question, think, laugh and be free.

Please check out the Emag of Efil project -- it's all about leveraging the power of the Cosmic Joke as a secret strategy for playing the Game of Life.


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on love

Chris Rock also has another great bit about love, one I feel exceeds any Hallmark Card:

"Cause if you can't share what you're like, you'll have problems. When you love somebody, got to love everything about them.

You got to love the crust of a motherfucker. You can't just love the white part of the bread. You gotta love the crust, the crumbs, the tiny crumbs at the bottom of the toaster."

Really drives home non-conceptual love, the need for honest communication, and spaciousness for other.

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