Enlightened Humor

Q: What did the Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor? A: Make me one with everything. Say what you will about the quality of the joke, but it does point to a certain quality of the religion — the practice of using humor as a way to interpret, understand, and deal with a mad universe. Take the 14th Dalai Lama (please). He’s the best-known Buddhist leader on the planet, and he has plenty of reasons to be dour and serious — including exile, perpetual disputes with China, and internal conflicts over his own religious practice. Yet the man calls himself “a professional laugher,” and he’s known for making jokes in the most serious of contexts. Learn today that you don’t have to be serious to be wise in the Meditation and Improvisation Workshop. Leading the session is Jaya Hartlein, who trained in physical theater in Italy and has run similar efforts in the U.K. She explains that improvisation is a natural fit for Buddhism, which emphasizes living in the moment and making the best of what’s at hand. “Improvisation supports meditation by helping us to be present to the ever-moving mind, as thoughts and feelings come and go, without holding on,” she says. Physical as well as vocal exercises are included in the workshop, as are small performances. People with any or no level of experience in meditation or improvisation are welcome. “It will be an interesting mix,” Hartlein says. No word, however, on whether a hot-dog cart is parked outside.
Sat., May 7, 10 a.m., 2011

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