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Video mantra chanting: Lama Tsongkhapa’s Migtsema wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma. Benefits: healing, compassion, metta, wisdom
Video teaching: Metta and Karuna, the “most important” Buddhist practices of Love and Compassion, from H.E. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche with Lama Tsongkhapa Migtsema mantra chanted by Yoko Dharma
Sacred outlook – Seeing beyond ordinary perception in modern culture, and American Buddhism
Why is pride a poison, and when can pride of accomplishment be considered a good thing? With full Ambattha Sutta “Pride of Birth and its Fall.”
Vajrasattva, the Great Purifyer, among the most powerful and profound healing and purifications techniques in Vajrayana Buddhism
Family lay Buddhism: What the Teachers Say about keeping motivated in your Buddhist Practice as parents — and coping with every-day family life in a modern stressful world
Reconnecting with nature to reboot our “spiritual self” activates a feeling of self-transcendence
Video: Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, The Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Rinpoche
Kucchivikara-vattha: The Monk with Dysentery (Sutra teachings) “If you don’t tend to one another, who then will tend to you?”
“Putting Compassion on the Scientific Map”: Compassion Boosts Happiness/Health; and Research Indicates That Practicing Buddhists Are Happier than Average.
Video with wonderful mantra chanting: Om Gate Gate Paragate Para Samgate Bodhi Soha, the essence of Heart Sutra and Emptiness
Music Mantra Video: Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the Four Immeasurables wonderfully sung by Yoko Dharma with video visualizations
Broken Commitments: 3 Teachers weigh in on practice “overload” and breaking Vajrayana practice promises. What do we do about it?
Dalai Lama and Lama Tsongkhapa: teachings on calm abiding meditation that go beyond “the breath” as the focus — targeting the main affliction
Music Mantra Video: Om Mani Padme Hum wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma, the sacred sound of compassionate Buddha Chenrezig
Tara Book excerpt and teaching: Who is Tara and how can She help us? An introduction to Tara, Karma, Shunyata, Dependent Arising, and Buddha Nature by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
What’s with all this consort union in Tantric Buddhism? No, it’s not about sexual fantasies. The psychology of Yab-Yum consorts, union of wisdom and compassion
Video: “How do I deal with my anger? Sometimes it consumes me and hurts others”: a Buddhist student asks teacher Ven. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Video: “Experience Buddhism” with Namdrol Rinpoche “Buddhism emphasizes, and lays its very foundations on, equanimity.”
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Medicine Buddha healing mantras chanted by the amazing Yoko Dharma
Why 35 Confessional Buddhas practice and “The Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls” is a critical purifying practice for Buddhists
What the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams Have in Common: Laughter, and Compassion, the Best Medicine
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Letting Go — letting go of past, letting go of future, letting go is the hardest thing to do: Na Tumhaka Sutta
Becoming Gesar, the fearless Buddhist: How to overcome fear in uncertain times, according to Pali Sutta, Mahayana Sutra and Tantra
The Hand of Buddha defeats the three poisons : Vajrapani (literally, “Vajra Hand”) — Guardian of Shakyamuni Himself; Vajrapani, the power of the mind to overcome obstacles such as pride, anger, hate and jealousy
Tonglen video: Why giving and taking practice is an important kindness meditation and Bodhichitta practice; how to do it: taught by Zasep Rinpoche
Understanding Dependent Co-Arising is critical to Buddhist practice: The Great Causes Discourse Maha-nidana Sutta
Pali Sutta for Our Age: Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Book Review of a Classic
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What the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams Have in Common: Laughter, and Compassion, the Best Medicine

What the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams Have in Common: Laughter, and Compassion, the Best Medicine

What do the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams M.D. have in common? They both emphatically believe in the power of laughter to heal, energize, enable, and inspire. The Dalai Lama famously laughs at every opportunity and often cracks jokes at his teachings. Patch Adams spent his entire life using laughter to comfort — and even heal — the sick.

 

Robin Williams played Patch Adams in the movie of the same name, 1998, based on the life of Dr. Patch Adams who believed humour was the best medicine.
Robin Williams played Patch Adams in the movie of the same name, 1998, based on the life of Dr. Patch Adams who believed humour was the best medicine.

 

Patch Adams: trying to make laughter and compassion the core of “what medicine is”

Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams, M.D., took awareness of laughter as therapy to a new level of acceptance within the medical community as a valid treatment option. His life inspired the movie, Patch Adams. In his lifetime, he opened a free hospital to pilot a treatment regimen with thousands of patients — a hospital where the main element of common therapy was humour.

“We’re trying to make compassion and generosity the centre core of what medicine is,” said Campbell about the Institute. [1]

 

 

This hospital became the Gesundheit Institute, famous for volunteer programs with clowns going to hospitals, refugee camps, orphanages and prisons. Patch Adams is a living model for comedian Charlie Chaplin’s famous quote: “Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” (For more on the scientific evidence for “laughter” as a prescription for health, see the last section of this feature.)

 

The real-life Patch Adams demonstrated the real healing power of laughter and compassion.
The real-life Patch Adams demonstrated the real healing power of laughter and compassion.

 

Laughter’s Power: heal, banish, energize

If you laugh when you are ill, you feel better. (Mom always said, “Laughter is the best medicine.) If you laugh in the face of sadness, you transform grief. If you giggle at your own stupidity, you learn wisdom. Laughter has the power to banish demons, both internal and external. If you smile in at the end of the day, you look forward to the next morning. Laughter is the ultimate magical power. If you can laugh, you are already a magician. If you tap into the magic of laughter, you have started on one of the paths to enlightenment.


Video: “Laugh with the Dalai Lama”: When the Dalai Lama laughs, everyone laughs. It’s a form of mindful medicine.

 

Mindfulness meditation pursues the blissful state of non-thinking, or rather, being in the present moment. Emptying the mind by sheer will is difficult, and methods include simply observing your thoughts, distraction, visualization and mantra repetition. All of these methods achieve the blissful state. Yet, an easier path, one we pursue intuitively in our lives, is laughter. When we laugh, in that instant, we enter the state of “no thought” or emptiness, if only for a microsecond. With practice, laughter can be a powerful path to enlightenment.

 

Dalai Lama: Jokes Are a Part of Teaching

Have you noticed how the Dalai Lama projects authority through laughter, with his charming chuckle and warm smile at every stop, in every situation?

 

 

The Dalai Lama teaches by doing. Every teaching is liberally punctuated with the Dalai Lama's infectious, irresistible laughter.
The Dalai Lama teaches by doing. Every teaching is liberally punctuated with the Dalai Lama’s infectious, irresistible laughter.

 

He’s always ready with the joke that makes large crowds gasp for breath as they laugh.

This isn’t just an act of empathy with the people around him. Laughter connects us to the very universe itself at a deep level. This power is not limited to enlightened teachers.

Laughter’s power is of benefit to anyone, of any spiritual path:

• science has proven that laughter is a genuine medicine, with real healing powers (various peer-reviewed articles and studies) [2]
• laughter has the power to charm and influence those around you in daily life
• laughter can extend life, and make those days truly worth living
• laughter supports us on the eightfold path, teaching equanimity, compassion, patience, kindness (Metta) and supporting us along the difficult path.
• laughter is beautiful.

 

Lama Yeshe was famously happy.
Lama Yeshe was famously happy.


Laughter and Mindfulness

Think about the moment of laughter. When you laugh, you are possessed by the laugh, in the present moment, no longer worrying about past or future. Laughter is a very powerful mindfulness meditation method. Thinking simply stops when you laugh. You experience genuine moments of no-mind.

 

Mother Teresa, famous for her laugh, always left people feeling "happier."
Mother Teresa, famous for her laugh, always left people feeling “happier.”

 

Laughter Teaches Emptiness

For those who “fear” the emptiness of enlightenment—often misunderstood to mean nothingness of extinction—laughter teaches us what true emptiness is. In that moment of pure laughter, our mind is still. It is empty. But it is bliss.

 

Gelek Rinpoche of Jewel Heart often laughs during teachings.
The beloved Gelek Rinpoche of Jewel Heart (recently deceased) often laughed during teachings.

 

Laughter, in Buddhism, is a very powerful daily meditation. I think of the innocent child, always laughing and giggling, smiles coming as naturally as tears, but everything spontaneous and real. Isn’t this the goal of meditation? To seek what is the inner truth. What is real. To be in touch mindfully with the real you?

 

Why do Enlightened Masters Laugh?

Throughout history, enlightened ones are the ones readiest with the smile or laugh. From Gandhi to Mother Theresa to the Dalai Lama, the smile is what people remember first. Gandhi, through hunger strike and strife, was always ready to smile.

 

The Dalai Lama in Australia teaching by example. He laughs at every opportunity.
The Dalai Lama in Australia teaching by example. He laughs at every opportunity.

 

The Dalai Lama who lost his entire country laughs more than most. The Dalai Lama suffered invasion, the death of his fellow monks as he fled Tibet, the ongoing struggle of his people, violence and bloodshed in his homeland. But he is the first person with the laugh and smile. That’s enlightened behaviour.

 

My Teachers all Laugh and Smile

From my root teacher through all the teachers I respect, one thing certainly connects them all. They are always willing to smile and laugh. If only it were so easy for the rest of us.

Zasep Tulku Rinpoche teaching Mindfulness of Feelings at Mahamudra mini-retreat.
Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, spiritual head of Gaden for the West and Gaden Choling always finds a reason to laugh in all his teachings.

 

What happens between childhood and maturity, that we lose the spontaneous, ready, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute willingness to laugh? Stress, life, struggles, more stress, worry, clinging, on and on. But those who endured far more suffering than most of us—from Mahatma Gandhi to Mother Theresa to the Dalai Lama—were always the ones able to laugh and smile in any situation.

Laughter is also energy. It has been called “the best medicine” and perhaps it must also be considered the best meditation.

 

What do the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams M.D. have in common? They both believe in the power of laughter to heal.
What do the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams M.D. have in common? They both believe in the power of laughter to heal.

 

What Science says about laughter: “stress-relief, pain reduction, improved healing…”

In an Official Publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, William Stream (PhD) concludes:

“There are, however, several good reasons to conclude that laughter is effective as an intervention. Although the evidence (detailed below) demonstrating laughter’s benefits could be stronger, virtually all studies of laughter and health indicate positive results.” The evidence Professor Stream mention include “an exhaustive review of the medical literature.” [2]

 

Patch Adams, M.D. uses laughter as a powerful medicine.
Patch Adams, M.D. uses laughter as a powerful medicine.

 

The article maps out extensive clinical evidence, including randomized controlled clinical trials, “validating the therapeutic efficacy of laughter” particularly in the fields of geriatrics, oncology, critical care, psychiatry, rehabilitation, rheumatology, home care, palliative care, hospice care, terminal care and broad general patient care.

The great Mahatma Gandhi laughing.
Mahatma Gandhi laughing.

 

Groucho Marx once said, that ‘A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.’ Patch Adams would certainly agree.

Laughter Researcher: “get all the laughter you can!”

Robert Provine, a well-known researcher on laughter said, in the documentary “Laugh Out Loud”:

“Until scientists work out the details, get in all the laughter you can!”

Provine is Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, an Assistant Director of the Neuroscience Program, and the author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. [3]


NOTES

[1] The Gesundheit! Institute, Founded by Patch Adams M.D. 

[2]  “Laughter prescription”, Official Publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, William Stream (PhD) 

[3] Laughter, A Scientific Investigation, Robert Provine, Viking, ISBN-10: 0670893757; ISBN-13: 978-0670893751 

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