Mulla Nasruddin was a Sufi mystic. For centuries people around the world have enjoyed his jokes without bothering about where he lived or to which country he belonged.
It is believed that he is an ancient character who always provoked people of his time to laugh at him. Often he himself became a laughing stock by doing so many stupid things on purpose just to make others laugh and let them feel good. He never intended to hurt others with his jokes so he made a fool of himself — to convey his subtle messages. He was the master of wisdom of folly.
According to Osho, Mulla Nasruddin is an old Sufi device. There have been many claims to whom Mulla Nasruddin belongs. The Russians say he belongs to them and have a gravestone to prove that claim. Iranians say he belongs to them. Arabs say he belongs to them. In Bukhara, they have a place dedicated to Nasruddin’s memory. In fact, wherever there is stupidity, there is Mulla Nasruddin. He belongs to all; nobody alone can claim him. And I say that he is still alive. He may have died in one country but he is resurrected in another. Many times, I have seen him dying and the next day he knocks on my door. It is impossible. It seems he cannot die. He is human stupidity. But if you look deep into the stupidity you will see the wisdom too. In all his stupidities there is a germ of hidden wisdom.
Down the centuries, most of the Sufi masters have used Mulla Nasruddin’s jokes to impart wisdom to their disciples. They even created their own jokes, parables and anecdotes in his name. Osho did this on a large scale as he never wanted his discourses to be boring or good for sleep. Jokes were used to wake up people who come to religious discourses just to have a good sleep.
A joke is a powerful devise to wake up people and in a very harmless way. The sudden unexpected turn, that is the secret of a joke — the revelation. You are expecting something and it doesn’t happen; what happens is so absurd and yet has a logic of its own... it is ridiculous and yet not illogical. That’s what suddenly becomes a laughter in you. You see the ridiculousness of it, and also the logic of it. It is unexpected — if it is expected, then it doesn’t bring laughter to you. If you know the joke then it doesn’t bring laughter to you, because now you know, everything is expected.
Osho has told thousands of jokes in his spiritual talks and made millions of people laugh with his jokes and anecdotes. These jokes did a great service to humanity before the advent of WhatsApp.
For Osho laughter is the most beautiful meditation as it gives us an instant taste of transcendence. He says, “Laughter is the only ordinary experience when you are no longer a mind, and I use it to give you glimpses of no-mind, of meditation, of a transcendence of mind. Perhaps I am the first man in the whole history of mankind who has been using jokes as a preparation for meditation.”
In some Zen monastries, every monk starts his morning with laughter and ends his day with laughter. It is the first and the last thing every day. Osho suggests, “If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear God laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing — trees and stones and stars with you.”
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World, is the author of Osho Fragrance...