Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'between' the joke and the punch line?

One of the delicious things about jokes is that they make me laugh and laughter has a way of erasing the blackboard -- wiping out in a single burst of delight all of the configurations and conniving that preceded and will probably post-date it. Laughter -- what a blessing!

My Zen teacher's teacher, Soen Nakagawa, once commented during a sesshin, or Zen retreat: "There is birth and there is death. In between is enlightenment."

The Bible, I have heard, says that "Man is born between piss and shit."

The ordinary interpretation, I guess, is that birth is wondrous and piss and shit are somehow lesser and possibly detestable matters. Enlightenment is wowsers and birth and death are, by comparison, second-class citizens.

Between birth and death.

Between piss and shit.

Today I think that the word "between" is both the joke and the punch line. A merry little word ... "laughing," as the Christmas carol suggests, "all the way."

"Between" -- sure, it's useful now and then. But really, who are we kidding? Isn't this really a very good rib-tickler?


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