I love it when my perspective suddenly gets shifted. You know? This is the basis of all good jokes; the aha! that surprises us into delighted laughter. You expect one thing, but quite another pops up.
The teaching tales of Mulla Nasruddin (likely dating from the 1200s!) exemplify this sudden destabilization of normal consciousness, using it to lead listeners toward enlightenment.
A neighbor comes upon Mullah Nasruddin frantically searching for something under the light of a lamp post in the dusty street outside his home.
“Mullah, what have you lost?” he asks.
Nasruddin replies, “Oh, it’s terrible. I have lost my keys.”
The neighbor, being the kind person he is, gets down on his hands and knees and begins to search with Nasruddin through the dust. After a long time, the neighbor asks Nasruddin, “Mullah, are you sure you lost your keys right here in this exact part of the street?”
“Oh no!” says Nasruddin, “I lost them somewhere in my house.”
“What?!” exclaims the neighbor, getting up creakily. “If you lost them in the house, then why are we wasting our time looking for them under this lamp post?”
Nasruddin replies, “The light is better here.”
The first example, the joke, was an aha; this one is an ohhhhh! Now I get it.
Both are basic seed syllables that Hindu wisdom say are the core of “ah” and “om,” the breathing in and out mantras that make up the living universe.
It feels enlivening to notice the potential for animated engagement everywhere.
I find it especially fun to be reminded that the world is looking back.
Everything from hairpins to hinges…
…not to mention the more-than-human world, which is always watching.
And I feel, from experience, that the more we respond to these beings, objects & processes surrounding us, the more they will respond back in kind.
Free play in an animate universe.