Tiny birds laugh derisively at the flight of the mighty Peng. Their laughter evinces their egoic closed-mindedness. Their narrow experience is the measure of all things. Song Xing laughs at those who, like the birds, commit to their petty accomplishments as sufficient to make them “someone”. He is “better” than they. (1:7)

The sage laughs joyously in the freedom of play. Her laughter is celebratory. She “takes part everywhere as the springtime of each being”. (5:16) Her laughter is an affirming appreciation of every expression.

A Zennist who has just experienced satori declares: All that’s left is to have a good laugh. How so? Previously, all was so serious; there was a self to be saved. Now, all is well and is seen to have always been so.

But why laugh? Laughter turns on incongruity; all these messes, this Great Mess, are recontextualized in an experience of unconditional Wellness. This laughter evinces transcendence.

But transcendence is not negation. The messes remain. Indeed, without them there would be no transcendence, nor occasion for laughter.

We have before us a picture of a bloodied child, irredeemably traumatized by war. Shall we laugh? Can we laugh still? We cannot laugh at this, but we still laugh, do we not? Or do we descend into an abyss of anguished despair? What is it then that allows us to live on—to laugh with our own children, to enjoy the bitter-sweet of life?

Some may be scandalized by a declaration of universal Wellness—but they live it just the same. Life itself is hopefulness and trust. Hope dawns eternal because life itself is irredeemably celebratory.

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