Do we have the ability to laugh at ourselves?
In this insightful and uplifting talk, Bill Weber shares that humor is a terrific way to work with one of the foundations of Buddhist wisdom: the concept of Non-self. The allure of our sense of self can easily lead us to become overly attached to our identity. We become competitive, demanding, and obsessive about the way we are treated.
To counter this, Bill encourages us to instead find humor in the demands that our ego makes of us (and others). If we observe our mind playing these games, it allows us to lighten up and disconnect from our sense of self. We gain the ability to laugh at embarrassing situations rather than see them as personal failures. It helps us connect with who we really are behind our social facade – the observer, rather than the performer of acts.
This ability to find the absurdity in the human condition is actually a deep practice, one perfected by the late Wes Nisker, a teacher, author and Buddhist comedian.
Bill speaks about the tradition of Crazy Wisdom and its role in breaking through the illusion of reality. He encourages us to find the clown, the trickster, the jester and the fool within and learn how not to take ourselves so seriously.
He also mentions the organization, “Clowns Without Borders” and reflects on the work of Bernie Glassman, founder of the New York Zen Center. Although Glassman founded a retreat where participants lived among the homeless, and one that took place in Nazi concentration camps, he later pursued humor and went on to found the “Order of Disorder” and the “Zen Peacemakers.”
Bill closes with Wes Nisker’s poem “Why I Meditate”
Bill Weber is a senior Vipassana practitioner and a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders program. He has twenty-five years of extensive retreat practice and currently practices at home with his husband or sits with a small group of gay men. He is also a documentary filmmaker and video editor, whose latest projects are “To Be Takei,” “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” and “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song.”