Some Buddhist Humor

I talk about Buddhism often and many of my readers are familiar with it. That’s why I thought they will probably enjoy this much more than the average person. Anyway, here’s a list of jokes about Buddhism that I hope will make you smile:

  1. What did the Buddhist say to the pizza chef?
    Make me one with everything.
    (The pizza chef prepares it and gives it to the monk. The monk pays him and asks for the change. The hot dog vendor says: “Change comes from within”.)
  2. How many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Three – one to change it, one to not-change it and one to both change-and not-change it.
  3. How many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?
    None, they are the light bulb.
  4. How many Zen masters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A tree in a golden forest.
  5. Wherever you go, there you are.
    Your luggage is another story.
  6. Breathe in. Breathe out.
    Breathe in. Breathe out.
    Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
  7. Q: How much “ego” do you need?
    A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.
    ~ Shunryu Suzuki
  8. If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
  9. Why can’t a Buddhist vacuum under the sofa?
    Because he has no attachments.
  10. “A Zen master once said to me, ‘Do the opposite of whatever I tell you.’ So I didn’t.

And here are some images:

zen bday 3710957239_77543c1ba5 tumblr_m8nek8pi8X1rc2oeao1_250 buddhist_compliment_321115

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36 thoughts on “Some Buddhist Humor

    1. David Yerle Post author

      I actually agree with quite a lot and have been trying meditation for a while. I don’t buy into some of the stuff (reincarnation, for one) but I’m not even sure Buddha spoke about that. So, love it, with some reserves.

      1. Humans Are Weird

        Big, big fan. Reincarnation, not for me. But I like to imagine that what they were secretly trying to say was that energy can only change forms, and so everything is just recycled. And as far as I know, like you said, buddha never said anything on the reincarnate. To me, he was just a really wise dude. There’s no faulting any of the philosophies, none that I’ve found (aside from the claims, but claims =/= philosophy).

        1. john zande

          I liked it! It was a good exercise. It’s precisely why i tried to bake a god. I approached it trying to make sense of it and see what a god would actually look like. I failed 🙁

    1. David Yerle Post author

      I should do that. Though what’s fun about this jokes is that I actually know a bit about Buddhism, which makes them funnier. I don’t know much about Islam so most of the jokes I collected would just seem stereotypical. I think these are Buddhism jokes for Buddhists. I doubt someone with no understanding of Buddhism could understand them much. Also, these jokes are from a “friendly” perspective, in the sense that I actually like Buddhism and also like to laugh at myself. These jokes are not “offensive” to Buddhists, I’d actually say quite the opposite. If I collected jokes on Islam (or on Christianity, for that matter) they would turn out a lot more aggressive. I’m not sure I want to get into all that.

        1. David Yerle Post author

          I had to check this out, I somehow never heard about this before. It is a pretty terrible thing. I am not sure how much blame can be assigned to Buddhism on this one (I don’t think “be part of a military dictatorship” ties in well with “have no attachments”) but, on the other hand, religions and organized religions are pretty different things. It’s a bit like reading the New Testament and comparing it to the Catholic Church.
          I am really surprised this isn’t given more coverage in Western media.
          Oh, and I didn’t get the number, though. Why 969?

          1. tom

            “969” is a sign Buddhists put up in their shop windows to warn Muslims they are not welcome. The Buddhists in Myanmar either boycott Muslim shops or ransack them.

            “Stop 969 Group” is the name of the Buddhist racist organisation dedicated to the genocide of the Rohingya. It is led by Buddhist monks.

            Buddhist monks have also been attacking Muslims and their businesses in Sri Lanka.

            I guess none of this quite fits in with the rather childish one-hand-happy-clappy Buddhist meme. It’s the only explanation why such genocide is not newsworthy!

          2. David Yerle Post author

            Living in China, I know better than to buy into the “one-hand-happy-clappy Buddhist meme,” as you put it. That does not change my opinion of Buddhism, though, in the same way that the Nazis using the work of Nietzsche does not change my opinion of Nietzsche. But this is quite terrible and your theory that it does not fit with our preconception of Buddhists does seem to explain the lack of coverage. Having lived in Asia for a while, I think we have a highly romanticized view of the way Buddhism is practiced here. What I see is just people who “pray” to the Buddha for bigger houses. Funnily enough, Chinese also seem to have a highly romanticized vision of Christianity. It goes both ways, I guess.

          3. bloggingisaresponsibility

            I actually was debating blogging about this…

            I used to regularly go to a Chinese Buddhist Temple and I realized that most of the people there (who were Chinese) treated it as a typical religion. Only a small fraction (at least half of which were Westerners) actually meditated. The two groups largely did not interact except on special occasions.

            A bit more studying and I realized Buddhism was a typical religion. Religions have outer forms that most people follow, and inner forms like their mystical paths. The case with Buddhism is that the inner form became the dominant view in the West.

            It also didn’t take long to realize the non-violent Buddhist was a myth. This history of Buddhism may not be soaked in blood, but I wonder if this is simply because Buddhists didn’t have the opportunity to do violence on a wide scale. There have been enough incidents to show Buddhists can be as nasty as other people. For instance, Tibet under the Lamas, and now 969.

          4. livelysceptic

            I think that might be true, BR, in buddhism the inner form became the dominant view in the West. How interesting.
            My experiences are the same, mainstream buddhism in Asia reminds me of catholicism in the West.
            And then there’s the zen buddhists in Japan who actively encouraged killing people during WWII.
            One thing I do think is that we shouldn’t make the mistake of condemning vegetarianism because it looks like Hitler did not eat meat.

          5. bloggingisaresponsibility

            Well the merit of a teaching is independent of the teachers or practitioners. To focus on the teachings, one should not get distracted by the various accouterments like ritual, shenanigans from followers and so on. In this sense, some preemptive iconoclasm is a very good thing.

            When I went into Buddhism, I did so with a good deal of skepticism. Because of this, I was not discouraged when various myths were shattered; in fact, I often distrusted what people told me as they told me and simply ignored them. This also drove me to focus on the important essence and even approach it from a variety of angles and I think this deepened my understanding and perhaps practice.

    2. H.C. Disney

      a Zen monk migh laugh at your observations. A muslim just might kill you for the same kind of humor.

      1. David Yerle Post author

        I completely agree. That is why I have a very positive view of Buddhism and a not so positive view of Islam. When someone feels entitled to kill you because of a joke or a disagreement, there is something extremely wrong with their world view.

      1. livelysceptic

        Yes, that is an inside joke if I ever saw one. When I was in the monastery, a visiting American remarked that none of us would change a lightbulb without asking our zen Master first. I don’t think he was trying to be funny. He sounded way to exasperated for that. 😉

  1. bloggingisaresponsibility


    There was one I heard… I think it was more of a comic strip. Basically, a monk was meditating and was thinking:

    “I must let go so I can transcend my ego and become utterly selfless. Then I’ll be the most famous monk in the monastery!”.

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hahaha that one’s great! Maybe I should put it up there with the rest. By the way, you haven’t posted anything in ages! I keep dropping by and checking, but nothing… holidays?

      1. bloggingisaresponsibility

        Thanks; I actually heard that one from a Nun in a Buddhist Temple during a Dharma talk.

        Thanks for the compliment (of awaiting my next post!).

        I have several drafts I’m picking at, but the most likely next posting is about a certain psychologist’s perspective on spiritual practice, with some implications on Buddhism drawn from that.

        I hope to have that one done later this week or early next week.

        1. David Yerle Post author

          Hi Joel,
          I am not sure what you mean by this. If it is a reference to the fact that a Buddhist monk would never look for fame and fortune, I hope you agree with me that humorous comments do not have to be accurate.
          Also, I can’t really tell if your comment is also meant to be humorous or if you were offended by something said on this thread or post. It’s one of the disadvantages of electronic communication. If the latter is the case, please feel free to articulate your point of view more extensively so that we can have a fruitful conversation.

      1. Tongue Sandwich™

        There is, of course, always more than one way to skin a cat — or, in this case, to deal with anticipated pain. You could sit down in the dentist’s chair and immediately grab his balls. He would likely ask something along the lines of “WTF are you doing?”, to which you could reply “We don’t want to hurt each other, right?”

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