The Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have asked, "How can anyone laugh who knows of old age, disease, and death?" Despite the severity of this rhetorical question, Buddhists through the centuries and across cultures have incorporated humor into their religious lives. The literary, ritual, and artistic traditions of the Buddhist world contain a variety of humorous and comedic elements that challenge the representation of Buddhism as a humorless doctrine of detached austerity. As a result of this image of Buddhism, scholars have tended to view humorous elements of Buddhist texts and practices as anomalous or marginal rather than as vibrant and vital aspects of Buddhist traditions. This workshop will explore the role of humor in Buddhism from early canonical theories of humor and the unexpectedly robust comedy of the rules for monks and nuns to the outrageous behavior of tantric gurus and Zen Masters. This event is free and open to the public.
Friday, February 9, 4:00 pm
Plenary address: What's So Funny About the Laughing Buddha?
Saturday, February 10
Panel 1: Humor in the Leaves of the Tripitaka
Panel 2: Buddhism and Humor in China and Japan
Panel 3: The Logic of Laughter in Tibetan Buddhism
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