In Japan, a great mystic, Hotei, is called the laughing Buddha. He is one of the most loved mystics in Japan, and he never uttered a single word. As he became enlightened, he started laughing, and whenever somebody would ask, Why are you laughing? he would laugh more. And he would move from village to village, laughing.
A crowd will gather and he will laugh. And slowly — his laughter was very infectious — somebody in the crowd will start laughing, then somebody else, and then the whole crowd is laughing — laughing because…. Why are they laughing? Everybody knows, “It is ridiculous; this man is strange, but why are we laughing?”
But everybody was laughing; and everybody was a little worried, “What will people think? There is no reason to laugh.” But people would wait for Hotei, because they had never laughed in their whole life with such totality, with such intensity that after the laughter they found their every sense had become more clear. Their eyes could see better, their whole being had become light, as if a great burden had disappeared.
People would ask Hotei, “Come back again,” and he would move, laughing, to another village. His whole life, for near about forty-five years after his enlightenment, he did only one thing and that was laughing. That was his message, his gospel, his scripture.
And it is to be noted that in Japan, nobody has been remembered with such respect as Hotei. You will find in every house, statues of Hotei. And he had done nothing except laugh; but the laughter was coming from such depth that it stayed with anyone who heard it and triggered his being, created a synchronicity.
Hotei is unique. In the whole world there is no other human being who has made so many people laugh — for no reason at all. And yet, everybody was nourished by the laughter, and everybody was cleansed by the laughter, felt a well-being that he had never felt. Something from the unknowable depth started ringing bells in peoples’ hearts.