Holy Fools and Divine Laughter

Richer By Far

“Since smiling is extraordinarily rare in depictions of divine or savior figures, Buddhist scholars are careful to distinguish the smile of Buddha. They list six classes of laughter, from the most sublime in a descending scale to the most uncouth and crude. They begin with sita, a faint, almost undetectable smile, which is followed by hasita, a smile that involves the slightest movement of the lips, revealing only a glimpse of the teeth. The third classification is vihasita, a broad smile reaching from ear to ear that is often accompanied by laughter. Next comes upanhasita, a broad-faced smile that is accompanied by some laughter. Fifth is apahasita, a smile accompanied by loud laughter so intense as to bring tears. Finally in last place is aithasita, the belly laughter that is so boisterous as to rock the entire body. This wonderful Buddhist catalog of smiles…

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