February 7, June 8, October 8

The tenth step of humility is that a monk is not given to ready laughter, for it is written: “Only a fool raises his voice in laughter” (Sir. 21:23).

There is humour that smiles kindly at the condition of the world, chuckling with it. This kind of humour is not cruel; it is a humour that rises from the graced impermanence of the human condition. Hope has been found in this condition and this humour is immersed in it. The Dali Lama is someone of this humour. His humour is not vindictive. Humour like this is grounded, giving a kind of ‘wise fool’ insight into life; it has been humbled.

A good sense of humour is not prone to vulgarity and smart-aleckness. A good sense of humour is discerning and aware of how untethered humour can use, hurt, and isolate others. Laughter that is unthinking, too readily given, can betray a sense of humour more influenced by desires to be noticed and appreciated, often at the expense of others. This humour is not humble, it is more about attention seeking and insecurity.   

Other humour can be gentle, being more of a response to life and the situations we get ourselves into, simply by living. The laughter here does not have a hard edge, it comes from empathy and compassion. This humour does not release laughter that is out of proportion to the situation; it does not crash into circumstance, perhaps causing puzzlement, defensiveness, and a hardening of heart. This humour is humble enough.

A good sense of humour can reveal a groundedness in the reality of an earthed life, having perception in touch with the ordinary events of life that have their own quirks and peculiarities. In this reality can be found broad smiles and hearty belly laughs – all shared and at the expense of no-one. A healthy community is predominated with this sense of humour. It is a humour at the service of life; it is shaped by the shared silence of meditation. 

And all the believers were united and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and divided the proceeds to all according to what each had need. Each day, with one heart, they went faithfully to the Temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they ate their share of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and approved by all the people. Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47, RNJB)