Why The Buddha Laughs Last

I got back to the cave just before sunset and found Master Fwap and the Oracle busily preparing dinner over the fire pit. I unstrapped my gear, and as the smell of whatever they were cooking hit my nostrils, my mouth began to water, and the hunger in the pit of my stomach instantly awakened.

Psychically sensing my need for carbohydrates, Master Fwap heaped mountains of cooked grains onto my plate. I washed the hot food down with tea, and then, overcome with a complete sense of well-being, I sat back by the warmth of the fire with a full stomach and with my greatest athletic achievement still fresh in my memory. Then I lay down on my sleeping pad and stared at the flickering shadows cast by the fire as they danced across the top of the cave.

“Did your snowboarding go well?” Master Fwap politely inquired.

“Yes,” I responded in a mellow voice. “I think that today I reached a new level in my snowboarding capabilities.”

“Don’t you think your snowboard, this cave, this place of power, Fwap and I, and your experience last night in the second attention surfing the dimensions also deserve part of the credit for your ‘success’ today?” the Oracle asked me in a humorous tone of voice. “Fwap, it sounds to me like our young friend’s ego is beginning to blossom nicely,” he added, with a sarcastic grin.

“Now, now, O great Oracle of Nepal,” Master Fwap immediately responded. “Don’t you think we should perhaps take it easy on the boy? Tomorrow he must see if he can overcome the initial ‘obstacle,’ to see if his power is strong enough to attempt to solve the riddle of the missing dimensions. I am not sure criticizing him now will help him to overcome the obstacle, but as always, O great and powerful Oracle of Nepal, I bow to your superior wisdom in these matters.”

“Wait a minute, you guys,” I said, interrupting their conversation. “What do you mean that I have to overcome an obstacle tomorrow before I get to tackle the riddle? We just got here,” I said nervously.

“Tomorrow is your day,” responded the Oracle. “Don’t worry, I think the whole obstacle challenge is a waste of your time. You should solve the riddle right away, and then begin your study of the third cycle of the Buddha’s Tantric teachings, so you can regain your past-life enlightenment as soon as possible. But Fwap is insistent on following all of the proper etiquette and formalities. That’s because he’s older than I am and still stuck in some of the old-school Buddhist ways. I think the obstacle is a waste of your time and energy. We should get on with solving the riddle and teaching you what you need to know now, before you return to the West.”

“Wait a minute. You said once I solved the riddle that would be it; I would know everything that I needed to know in order to become enlightened. You never mentioned anything about overcoming an obstacle before I dealt with the riddle!” I interjected in a frustrated tone of voice.

“And what about the disembodied master who spoke to me out on the peak? He too seemed to think I had to solve the riddle pronto, I mean, he seemed very concerned about the fact that the dimensions were disappearing. Master Fwap told me he was posing a riddle for me to solve that would help me—if I succeeded in solving it—to become enlightened.

“The two of you confirmed this, and we trekked all of the way out here to do it. What gives? Is this one of your Buddhist jokes?”

“Not at all,” Master Fwap responded. “The obstacle is real, and solving it will help you the day after tomorrow, when you attempt to solve the riddle of the missing dimensions. If you succeed in overcoming the obstacle tomorrow, and in solving the riddle the day after tomorrow, you will still need both the Oracle’s and my empowerments and explanations to move from a conceptual understanding of the more advanced Tantric methods and practices to the actual knowledge and experience of them.”

“Let me see if I am getting this straight. Even if I overcome the obstacle—whatever that might be—and then successfully solve the riddle, you two expect me to stay here in Nepal even longer and study the advanced Tantric stuff with you?”

“Definitely,” Master Fwap replied. “I am afraid there is no other way in this age to find out what you must know.”

“Most definitely!” shouted the Oracle. “You’re not going to escape from your karma so easily. Don’t feel bad, though. Both Fwap and I have gone through the same mental states you are currently experiencing, and we have an understanding of your frustrations.”

“Hold on a minute here, you two. I came to Nepal to snowboard the Himalayas. I ran into Master Fwap, and he told me that studying Buddhism would make me a better snowboarder. He performed miracles in front of my eyes and transported me into levels of perfect awareness and knowledge I didn’t even know existed. Then I came here, to this cave, with the both of you, to improve my snowboarding through learning more about Buddhism.

“Now this whole thing is beginning to sound more like going to college,” I complained. “Once I pass one course, I get stuck in the next, more advanced course. I know for sure I am not ready for college yet, as a matter of fact, I don’t know if I ever will be.”

“Do you know why the Buddha always laughs last?” Master Fwap asked me.

“You know that I don’t know why the Buddha always laughs last. What does that have to do with what we were just discussing?”

“Everything and nothing,” responded the Oracle.

“Okay, why does the Buddha always laugh last?” I inquired, my frustration growing with each passing moment.

“He laughs last because he didn’t laugh first,” Master Fwap responded, in a serious tone of voice.

“What is that supposed to mean, and what does that have to do with overcoming the obstacle and finding the secret of the missing dimensions, and then with my having to stay here longer in Nepal and study the advanced tantras with the both of you?”

“It’s the easiest way to overcome the obstacle,” the Oracle commented with a yawn.

“But what does it all mean? Obstacle? Missing dimensions? Advanced tantras?” I asked.

“Nothing at all,” responded Master Fwap.

“Well, if you’ll excuse me, that sounds pretty dumb. What’s the point of a question that has an answer that doesn’t mean anything at all?”

“I told you the obstacle was a waste of time,” the Oracle said with a bored expression on his face. “But Fwap is definitely a man who believes in the old ways, so I suppose we must go through this.”

“Indeed, we must!” Master Fwap replied with renewed vigor in his voice.

“Okay, I’ll listen. But I want you both to know, no disrespect intended, I am definitely in my heavy skepticism mode,” I said as a tone of righteous indignation began to creep into my voice.

“So what else is new?” inquired the Oracle.

“The obstacle is why the Buddha laughs last. His laughing last is not the obstacle. This is a clue that should enable you, after you understand the half-life of time, to overcome the obstacle with ease,” Master Fwap said in a formal tone.

“Once you have overcome the obstacle and solved the riddle, we will lead you through the advanced tantras. All of this I promise you will further improve your snowboarding and also provide you with the skillful means to do something much more important, namely, to become enlightened.”

“I feel like you two are setting me up here.”

“We are,” responded Master Fwap.

“We are,” echoed the Oracle.

“But we are not setting you up for something unhappy or unfortunate,” Master Fwap continued, “Remember, our Buddhist humor is based on making others happy. We take no joy in the difficulties, misfortunes, or frustrations of others.

“Yes, indeed, we are setting you up. We are setting you up to be the best snowboarder you can be and to regain your past-life enlightenment. We are setting you up for very happy things. But it is necessary to coerce your mind just a little bit to get you to go along with us. Trust us. Later you will be very glad that you did.”

“Should we tell him about the German woman who snowboards better than he does?” the Oracle asked Master Fwap with a huge grin on his face.

“What German woman? I didn’t know there were any women who could snowboard better than I can!”

“Well, I suppose we might make a casual mention of it to him, O great Oracle of Nepal, now that you have let the proverbial cat out of the bag.”

“Tell me about her, Master Fwap. Please!”

“All right, but don’t get too excited or it will distract you from overcoming the obstacle tomorrow. If you don’t overcome the obstacle and then solve the riddle, you will never get to meet her.

“It’s really quite simple,” Master Fwap continued. “A young woman arrived in Nepal from Germany to snowboard the Himalayas. But she is just a little bit better at snowboarding than you are.”

“Is she another Buddhist like Nadia was?” I hesitantly asked.

“No, as a matter of fact, she has absolutely no interest in metaphysics. She is a student in Heidelberg, studying philosophy. She is very pragmatic and doesn’t believe in anything to do with the spirit. She is definitely physically based,” Master Fwap said in summation.

“There is one hitch, though,” the Oracle said, trying unsuccessfully to suppress a grin.

“What’s that?” I asked suspiciously.

“Should I tell him, Fwap?”

“It won’t hurt at this point.”

“What’s the hitch, Master Oracle?” I asked as my curiosity became aroused.

“Nothing very big. You’ve just been with her in about a dozen of your past lives, that’s all.”

I was struck dumb for several minutes, absorbing everything that Master Fwap and the Oracle had just told me.

The Oracle then broke the silence: “Well, don’t you want to know why the Buddha always laughs last?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Yes,” I immediately responded. “Why, Master Oracle?”

The Oracle was silent for a moment. He closed his eyes briefly, and then reopened them and stared directly at me. “The reason the Buddha always laughs last is because he sees the ephemeral nature of existence. In the world of Buddhist enlightenment there is always laughter and never tragedy.

“Things may appear tragic on the surface, but all of the so-called tragedies of life eventually melt away in the white light of time. Without time and death, there can be no permanent tragedy or separation. In each of our incarnations we are drawn back to what we love, and those we love, and the so-called tragedies we experienced in our previous lifetime only become our next incarnation’s past-life memories.

“Since the Buddha, and all enlightened beings for that matter, know this, they always have the last laugh. It is not an egotistical laugh,” he continued. “It’s a happy laugh at the delightful play of existence, which only enlightened masters can accurately see from their cosmic perspectives.

“Now that you understand this, all that is left to prepare you to overcome the obstacle and to solve the riddle of the missing dimensions is a proper understanding of the half-life of time. Fwap will guide you through those mysteries, while I sit here and tend to the fire.”