605Punk'd By Samsara's Candid Camera
- Mar 22, 2005
Punk'd By Samsara's Candid Camera
Laughing at others vs laughing at ourselves
I'm sure most of us have seen "Candid Camera" before, which is probably the earliest form of "Reality TV"! CC is a show which screens videos of practical jokes played on the man on the street. The same prank has a wide spectrum of reactions - ranging from mild frustration to deep shock, from boiling anger to uncontrollable laughter. Yes, it is the individual, not the situation, makes all the difference. How would you fare in your favourite prank? Since CC is plain funny to the observer, but not always to its "participants", is it really good clean fun, or subtly sadistic? Why do we like to see others caught in hilarious and bewildering situations? It probably feels alright since we know the scenerios are merely setups; nothing serious at all. Afterall, isn't it also enlightening to see the best and worst of human-nature flowering under mock extreme conditions?
Let's put ourselves on the other end of life's candid camera - if a most cruel yet realistic joke is played on you, would you be able to laugh it off graciously once you discover the ruse? Isn't every practical joke a practical test which gauges your integration of spirituality into everyday life, especially in the face of adverse situations? The joke's really on you when you do not take it well! Do you respond more with increased rage or increased patience when your buttons are pushed harder than usual? When the trick is disclosed, will you guffaw away merrily with the "jokers", or bear a seething grudge for being laughing stock? Will you appreciate the clever trick, or think it was downright sick? Do you take your "self" too seriously? Can you laugh at your "self", which is illusory anyway? When you loosen your grip on your equally illusory pride, you will see the illusion of "self" clearer! That's probably when you can really laugh!
In the sutras, the Bodhisattvas are sometimes skilful tricksters, who manifest as ordinary beings to test the worthiness of spiritual practitioners. Just maybe, that stranger who readily irritates you every morning in the subway with his weird behaviour is one of them? Hey, no joke! Just maybe! Life continually offers you the very lessons you need to learn. For instance, if you are an easily angered person, even strangers around you might seem irritating - not because they are truly irritating, but because you are truly easily irritated. To quote Stonepeace's perspective, "What's more irritating than that irritating me is that I am irritable!" Because of the higher tendency to be irritated, the people you meet will apparently get on your nerves more than they do on others' - so it's your personal hell of sorts! Every encounter with the irritating is a golden opportunity to train your patience, the very virtue you lack. As long as you have not conquered your irritability, your world will always be full of irritants! Thus, every unpleasant situation we face nudges us to master ourselves; not to further punish ourselves. Seen this way, even our negative karma bearing "irritating" fruits is always kind!
It is intriguing that even being the unwitting victim of a joke involves karma at play. Not only do you karmically deserve being the butt of the joke, your reactions to it creates fresh new karma too! Reality TV can be more real than you thought! No one really sabotages you, even in jest, for we are our own saboteurs in life by our choice of attitude. Just as jokes are "real" tests of life, why not see the tests of life as "real" jokes? These tests or trials of life which we fret over will indeed turn out to be existential jokes we had played on ourselves. The moment we eradicate our delusions about reality, we will catch the joke! Why not live life with mindful good humour and open-hearted wisdom? Paradoxically, every single experience is both a test, yet just another test. Lighten up then! "Smile - like the Buddha! You're always on Samsara's Candid Camera!" No camera might be watching but the hidden "karma-ra" is always rolling! So be mindful and watch your karma! -Shen Shi'an (pic:tvtome.com,soundgenerator.com)