What If the Joke’s On You?

The best joke is the one
you are able to laugh the loudest at
when it is played the hardest upon you.

– Stonepeace

The streets of Singapore are now no longer safe (again)… from professional pranksters… whom with their meticulous planning and good acting, set up ‘traps’ for unsuspecting passers-by to fall for their tricks – whereupon they get bewildered, embarrassed, tested… for the presence of any rational calmness, patience and most of all, good humour. I’m talking about ‘Just for Laughs: Gags Asia’ (You can see some sample pranks at http://youtube.com/watch?v=mG7YSBg8s-4) Hmmm… I wonder how many takes with unamused (read ‘peeved’) passers-by transpired in the process of producing the series. The truth is, you can never truly tell that the perfect stranger you encounter, who lures you into any ‘weird’ or even ordinary situation is not a skilful undercover prankster. How then, should you respond to someone, who says, needs help for an unusual favour? Would you take him seriously or dismiss him entirely? How would you ascertain if there is an elaborate gag in store, with you as the unwitting star? Well, if the gag is well-planned, you would be caught off guard!

Whether you find the presence of these stealthy pranksters a nuisance or a breath of fresh air can be telling about you. Likewise, being caught unaware in a practical joke can be very revealing of aspects of your character that you might otherwise never realise to exist within you. These latent characteristics might just be ‘waiting’ for the right conditions to spring forth. Would you be baited by greed through a trick involving money? Would you be flustered and get mad for being tricked? How quickly can you laugh it away with a great and spontaneous sense of humour, if possible at all? How you respond is a measure of of your spirituality to some extent. No joke! Take note though – that any intentional thoughts, speech and action created while playing a trick or while being played does create positive or negative karma, as according to your mind-state! For example, tricking someone with the purpose of ridiculing would be bad, just as reacting with the expression of anger for being tricked would be bad too. Conversely, to genuinely help a prankster in a ‘fictitious’ desperate situation does create some good karma!

In Buddhist history, Bodhisattvas, and even ancient Buddhas do manifest at times as jolly jokers in disguise, who preach compassion and wisdom via their playful antics and words. Just as court jesters can be surprising dispensers of timely advice to kings, those who appear extremely foolish can turn out to be extremely wise! Sometimes, it’s not ‘just for laughs’. Sometimes, laughs can be very insightful too. In a way, every mundane prankster is a potential teacher too, an ‘accidental Bodhisattva’ if you will, who lightheartedly reminds us not to take our illusory egoistic selves too seriously. Just as you can’t readily tell who is a prankster, you can’t tell who is secretly a Bodhisattva! To avoid unneeded attention on their identities instead of their teachings, these Bodhisattvas only disclose their true identities on the brink of their passing. It’s as if their final revelatory joke! Now… Are you prepared to be ‘played’, to be tested? The only way to know is to fall prey to a prank! Remember to smile – because you would be on ‘Candid Camera’! Candid as it is, remember it’s ‘Karmic Kamera’ too!

Perhaps the Buddha didn’t just smile
when he realised non-self;
perhaps he laughed at him’self’ too.

– Stonepeace

Related Article: Money Under a Stranger’s Shoe

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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