10methods | Sheaffer

Laughing Buddha

A snippet from Ten Methods of the Heavenly Dragon

By Robert Sheaffer

Once everyone had settled, the Abbot looked at me and asked me what it was that he could do for me. "What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?" I asked, probably doing horrendous injustice to Douglas Adams with my Mandarin interpretation. A strange look came over the Abbot's face and a moment later his body started to jiggle slightly, then it became clear as the smile on his face stretched into an ear to ear grin that he was trying to hold in a chuckle, which burst out a moment later as he said, "I really should answer forty two, I really should" and laughed out loud. "It is from Douglas Adams, your question? So perhaps the answer should be too!" The words were coming out in little gasps between laughs which steadily increased in force and volume, until the Abbot was holding his sides and tears were running down his face. His laughter was infectious. I was grinning broadly and this became full laughter as I realized that everyone else was laughing too. Then all of a sudden, the Abbot leaned across the table and grabbed me by the shoulders, his nose only inches from mine, shook me roughly and whispered in perfect English; "It's all in the breath." I sat there instantly shocked into silence and stillness and gradually the sound of laughter around me faded away until the room was absolutely quiet again.