God, Human Stupidity, and Laughter

Once in a library I ran across a rogue translation of The Ramayana which some say is the oldest work of literature that there is. An ancient Persian story about Prince Rama. Basically, Prince Rama starts out full of ideals and then meets reality and gets the rug yanked out from under him, gets disillusioned and grows wiser. It was the template for the story that’s been repeated a million times. But at the end of The Ramayana — in this translation at least — at the end of the book he makes his way to the feet of the wisest man in the world and says: Master, everything I was taught was a lie. Everything I believed in was an illusion. Is there nothing in life that is real?

And the wise man ponders and says: [Affecting the voice of an ancient wise man] My son, three things in life are real. God, human stupidity and laughter. But the first two pass our comprehension. We must do what we can with the third. [Laughs] Cackling insanely he disappears over the hill and the curtain comes down. That made a powerful impression on me a long time ago. You know, God and human stupidity are beyond me. That’s another department. I just work here. But laughter? I can handle that. I can tell a joke and it may not be an answer, but it will do until an answer comes along.

There’s nothing as good as laughter. Morphine can’t touch it. Demerol’s got nothin’ on it. Gimme a giggle. The local cancer society has a special room they call The Humor Room for terminal patients. Everything in this room is hilarious: books, games, videos. If you need a giggle, go in that room and something will make you laugh. They came to me and said: May we have some of your stuff? And I’ve never been so profoundly flattered in my life.

from Spider Robinson’s The Crazy Year’s Column



One Response to “God, Human Stupidity, and Laughter”

  1. thalia Says:

    I hadn’t heard that ending to the “Ramayana” but laughed when I read it. And yes, it is an honor to be included in the Humor Room at the cancer society. Always an honor to be able to serve the sick and dying. Have you seen the movie “Patch Adams”? Great humor and great service.

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