Once upon a time in ancient China, there lived three old monks. Their names are not remembered today, simply because they never revealed them to anybody. In China they are simply known as the three laughing monks.
They always travelled together and did nothing else but, laugh. They entered a village or a town, stood in the center of it’s main square and started laughing.
Slowly but surely the people who lived and worked there and the passers by couldn’t resist and had to start laughing as well, until a small laughing crowd had formed and eventually the laughing had spread to the whole village or town. That was the moment when the three old monks moved on to the next village or town.
Their laughter was their only prayer, all of their teaching because they never spoke to anybody. They just created that situation. All over China they were loved and respected. The people had never known such spiritual teachers before… or after.
They seemed to communicate that life should be taken only as a great opportunity to laugh, as if they had discovered some kind of cosmic joke. So they travelled and laughed for many years, spreading joy and happiness throughout China, until one day … while being at a particular village in the north province, one of them died.
The people were shocked and came running from afar, leaving the fields unattended for the day, only to witness the other two monks reaction to this dramatic event. They were expecting them to show sorrow or eve cry, and the whole village came to the place where the three monks were. Two alive and one dead.
But the two remaining monks were laughing only harder. They were laughing and laughing and couldn’t seem to stop. So a few of the good people who were assisting to this scene in disbelieve approached them why they were not mourning at all for their deceased friend and for one time the monks actually responded :
“Because yesterday on our way to your village he proposed a bet on who of us would beat the other two and die first and now he won, the old rouge! He even had a testament prepared!”
A tradition required to wash the dead and change his clothes before putting him on the funeral pyre, but the old monk had explicitly asked to leave the old clothes on him, since he had never been filthy for one day.
“I never allowed any of the filth of this world to reach me, through my laughter.” His testament stated.
So the old man’s body was placed on the pyre with the garments he was wearing when he had arrived, and as the fire was lit and started licking on his clothes, to everyone’s astonishment suddenly fireworks of a hundred colors went exploding and finally the people who had gathered there also joined the laughter of the two wise men.