There is a serious side to humour. Humour opens the heart, triggers happiness that nourishes attention and interest. I often endeavour to share a depth of the Dharma in a Dharma talk soon after the humour because the hearts of the yogis are often receptive. Black humour can serve the same purpose though it does trigger a negative reaction from some. Perceived in another way, there is often, not always, an insight, sometimes hidden, in black humour. Dharma acts as a voice of protest against injustice and inquires into ruthless authority through insights into seeing conditions. Here is some black humour told to me by Dharma friends around the world over the years.
- Black humour from California. A man visited his therapist. “My wife places a phial of poison every morning on the kitchen table and puts terrible pressure on me to drink it. Please help me. Please advise me. The therapist was shocked. “Let me talk to your wife and I will get back to you.” Two days later, the therapist called the distressed husband back to his clinic. “I spoke to your wife for two hours. Take the poison.”
- Black humour from the occupied territories of the Palestinians. “If we ever become a nation, we will have to make special cars because we will end up with a very small country. By the time we get into second gear, we will be at the border with Israel.”
- Black humour from India. If village people saw Jesus carrying the cross, they would run up to him and ask him where he got the wood.
- Black humour from Chile. During the brutal military regime of the 1970’s, General Pinochet, the self appointed Chilean President, ordered every stamp in the country to be a photograph of him in uniform with all his medals. The stamp factory manager rang the President to say that the stamps would not stick on the envelopes. General Pinochet raced down to the factory filled with blocks of millions of stamps of himself. He took a stamp, licked it and it stuck on the envelope. The manager said: “Oh I do apologise, sir. We were spitting on the wrong side of the stamp.”
- Black humour from Israel. There was a huge traffic jam all the way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Nothing moved. Police officers went from car to car telling motorists what happened. “Terrorists have grabbed Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman in the ministerial car at the end of the motorway outside Tel Aviv. The terrorists are demanding a huge ransom; otherwise, they will blow up the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. We are going from car to car to collect for the ransom.” One car driver asked the police officer. “On average, how much are motorists giving?” The police officer replied: “About a litre of petrol each.”
I know. You don’t find black humour funny. I know. It is not politically correct humour. I know. You are shocked that a spiritual teacher should put black humour on his blog. Black humour can acts as an important emotional release for the oppressed. If there is no humour among political activists, views can turn really dark. Be mindful.