Preface to the Storehouse of Laughter
From ancient times to the present day, there is nothing that cannot be spoken of, and no speech that cannot be the subject of humor. That Heaven and Earth were made from formless chaos, that past rulers ruled and fought, who among us has borne witness? We have only words to tell us about them. Words from the past are just like words in the present. It is laughable to be always suspicious of them, but it is yet more laughable to be completely trusting of them.
The books of the classics, the philosophers, and the histories are just perverse talk, yet we strive to teach and transmit them. Poetry, odes, and essays are just idle talk, yet we strive to perfect them. To extend or to withhold praise and criticism is just nonsense, yet we strain to avoid it. Whether laughing at people or being laughed at by people, the one who laughs will be laughed at by others, while the one being laughed at will laugh at others in turn. When will the laughter ever stop?
The Storehouse of Laughter is a collection of humor. These thirteen chapters do not amount to very much. If the reader is gladdened by this book – please don’t be gladdened. If the reader is angered by this book – please don’t be angered. The world through the ages has been but one great storehouse of laughter. You and I are all in it together. It is offered up here as something to talk about. Not to speak is to be inhuman, not to laugh is not to speak. The world would not be formed without laughter or speech. The Laughing Buddha is my teacher, he is my teacher indeed!