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Three Laughing Masters

Anyone who knows me, or has known me, knows that joy is central to my understanding of what it means to be human. In addition to the experience of success we live in a world where we experience suffering, failure, loss, injustice, even evil. During such times, when the going is tough, when we’re vulnerable to the weakest and worst side of our nature, we need a deep commitment to something that keeps us in touch with the good, the better, the best that is in us—a deep, stubborn, robust commitment to joy. Nothing, nothing, I mean nothing shall take away my joy. Nothing in life. Nothing in death.

So, here’s a little story that brings a smile to me.

In China, they tell of three Taoist masters who taught by going into town, standing in the marketplace, and laughing. Laughter was their method of teaching. Then, one of them died.

People were curious as to how the remaining two would act as they gathered around the funeral pyre. The two masters who remained had been given strict instructions by the one who had died: they were not to prepare his body in any way and were specifically instructed not to change the clothes he was wearing when he died.

When the pyre was lit, the people discovered the dead master had saved one lesson for the end – he had crammed his pockets full of firecrackers.

The teaching began again.

Live in joy.



    My name, Landon, means “from the long hill.” I started my life in the hills of West Virginia. As a boy I kept climbing those long hills so I could see farther. After a lifetime of journeys and many climbs, I can now see much better, see so much more.

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