July 23, 2017


Warning: consumerism will not lead to enlightenment.

I am having a bit of a Zen moment lately here on NBA. My last post on Zen Kitties elicited this response from Sophie:

"I wish I had read this wonderful post BEFORE I cleaned the cats' litter box! This gave me a much-needed laugh today."

Reading Sophie's comment led me to think more about Zen and laughter.

Often Linda gives me cause to spontaneously erupt in a belly laugh. She is a very witty person with a wicked sense of humour, one reason I love her so. She is my laughter guru.

In these moments it feels like a window on the Infinite has been thrown open. A brief moment of enlightenment, ala Sosan, the third Chinese patriarch of Zen. He would "awaken" his students with unexpected loud noises, but it seems to me that anything jarring that surprises you could put one in a receptive state.

For me, that is stealth humour where I am caught unaware, and am laughing joyously before I even know I am laughing. In that space I am grounded, centred and present.

In that moment I am one with Linda, with humour, with my environment, and with a very delightful (and often funny) Universe. Even if only for a brief moment, it feels wonderful with all barriers and separations dissolved.

I hope this blog can keep Sophie, and all NBA readers, laughing from time to time with zingers that come out of nowhere.

Clang! There it is - en-laughter-ment.

Other things that I have found that lead me to moments of clarity include the practices of: love, compassion, humility, forgiveness, making music, helping others, and living simply. I wish to share those here as well.

And all the while laughter, as we progress together. Ha, ha, ha. Ho, ho, ho. Hee, hee, hee. You can not possibly have too much laughter.


  1. Anonymous7/24/2017

    A lot Zen skills go back to Zhuangzi, he would use surprise in his writings to move people into different realms of experience. Zhuangzi had a lot of influence on Chan and then Zen practice. I personally experienced this on a mediation retreat years ago where the retreat leader would suddenly shout and clap.
    Interestingly having a empty mind sounds bit abstract, but is achievable and has different components. For the first way you can use the modern psychological concept of fear extinction. The brain has unresolved fears and behaviours stored in the amygdala, through extinction practice people can change these fears allowing the mind to feel lighter and empty.
    The second path is to practice living simply this first creates insight into our cultural conditioning. The mind without conditioning is a reflection of this planet and the wider universe. Through simplicity the conditioning breaks down. Through this you realise that if something dosent sit right then it is going against our true nature such as excessive plastic in the world.
    Through practice, compassion increases without effort as you feel more connected.

    1. Alex,

      Life is best approached with fearlessness. Our naked emperors have used fearfulness to great effect in limiting the experience of the masses. In civilization there is always something of which we need to be afraid. Very afraid.

      Fear puts up walls. Fear is stress. Fearlessness is joy and openness.

      Living simply does lead to us being able to de-program ourselves. For that reason, it will never be embraced by the current system, which requires us to forget our natural state.

  2. Anonymous7/24/2017

    I agree with Alex that compassion increases when you feel more connected. My boyfriend and I like do birding year round, and in the summer, we also watch dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies. As we watch all these amazing creatures (which of course means we are out in nature) we feel like a small part of a big, amazing world and our feelings of compassion and responsibility rises. -- Mary

    1. Anonymous7/25/2017

      It's a nice feeling when you feel connected. A technique I found that enhances this feeling and prolongs the duration are media fasts. I cut it out for a week recently and saw storm clouds moving across the sky and was just looking in amazement, trees blowing in the wind were also amazing. Before humans settled and started making beliefs to justify exploitation the universe would have been perceived differently.

    2. Mary,

      I was just reading about studies which have shown that birds are good for human's mental health. They have found that areas with more birds tend to have mentally healthier humans.

      Linda and I learned to love the birds when we lived on the beach in Sooke, BC. Now that we live in Nova Scotia, a few kilometres inland from the Atlantic, we are learning about a whole new set of bird life. In both places our homes have felt like bird blinds. We don't need to go anywhere.

      One reason I like to share my love on nature is because of what you say - when people are connected to nature, they feel more passionately about protecting it. Decision-making changes when you feel that responsibility to all of life.


      I am trying to think more like a baby. Baby-mind, seeing everything without judgement. I like to think about how the world would appear If I could adopt the mind of humans living in harmony with the natural world. It amazes me that there are still humans that live this way.

      We would be wise to ensure their ongoing survival, and adopt their ways, for it seems like civilization is not as civilized as previously thought.

    3. We have a small, rustic country cabin in the mountains. No cell phone service, no internet or cable. At the end of a week we have no idea what's going on in the world and it doesn't matter. If we grew a garden there, put up a solar panel and installed a hand pump in our well I think we could survive nicely. Then we head home and the first thing I do is get on the internet haha!

  3. Absolutely 100% yes. Laughter is the key. It's really important for those of us interested in this way of life not to succumb to a joyless puritanism, self-righteousness or an obsessive competitiveness. Though the issues we grapple with are serious, sometimes the best way to get to the heart of things is not to take them seriously.

    1. J C,

      Yes, there is nothing to be gained from going from a life of joyless consumerism to one of joyless puritanism.

  4. Cheers for laughter! Not near enough in my life. Every time I laugh really hard, I feel so much tension leave, hardly believing I was that tense. Laughter loosen everything. The physical release is exhilarating. Recently, I learned about Laughter Yoga!

    1. Terri,

      Laughter yoga makes me laugh. I hope we can inject some humour into your life when you visit here.


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