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Three Laughing Monks: A Story About Laughing Your Way Through Life

The three laughing monks taught without speaking, using only their contagious laughter to spread joy and positivity throughout China.
Laughing Monks

Once upon a time, in ancient China, three old monks lived whose names are not remembered today simply because they never revealed them to anybody. In China, they are known as the Three Laughing Monks. They always traveled together and did nothing else but laugh.

They entered a village or a town, stood in the center of its main square, and started laughing. Slowly but surely, the people who lived and worked there, and the passersby, couldn’t resist and had to start laughing until a small crowd formed, and eventually, the laughter spread to the whole village or town. That was the moment when the three old monks moved on to the next village. Their laughter was their only prayer and teaching because they never spoke to anybody; they just created that situation.

All over China, they were loved and respected. The people had never known such spiritual teachers before or after. They seemed to communicate that life should be taken only as a great opportunity to laugh as if they had discovered some cosmic joke. So they traveled and laughed for many years, spreading joy and happiness throughout China.

One day, while being at a particular village in the north province, one of them died. The people were shocked and came running from afar, leaving the fields unattended for the day, only to witness the other two monks’ reaction to this dramatic event. They were expecting them to show sorrow or even cry, and the whole village came to the place where the three monks were, two alive and one dead.

But the two remaining monks were laughing only harder. They were laughing and laughing and could not seem to stop. So, a few of the good people who were assisting at this scene in disbelief approached them and asked why they weren’t mourning at all for their deceased friend.

For one time, the monks responded,

“Because yesterday, on our way to your village, he proposed a bet on who of us would beat the other two and die first, and now he won. The old rogue even had a testament prepared. The tradition required washing the dead and changing his clothes before putting him on the funeral pyre, but the old monk had explicitly asked to leave the old clothes on him since he had never been filthy for one day. ‘I never allowed any of the filth of this world to reach me through my laughter,’ his testament stated.”

So, the old man’s body was placed on the pyre with the garments he wore when he arrived. And as the fire was lit and started licking on his clothes, to everyone’s astonishment, suddenly fireworks of a hundred colors went exploding up and down and in all directions. Finally, the people who had gathered there also joined the laughter of the two wise men.

You see, in life, maybe the only reason that we are here on this earth is so we can laugh and laugh and never stop experiencing joy and laughter. So, the next time you face a problem, look in the mirror and laugh the problem away because your joy is what makes you alive.

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