10 Funny Zen Buddhist Jokes, 0 Punchlines.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Dec 4, 2011
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Zen has a funny reputation…seriously.

Everyone’s very serious and uptight…and at the same time, the great Zen teachers are famous for their irreverent troublemaking humor. I guess the view at the top of the mountain of our own foolish path is…equal parts sad and funny.

A cursory understanding of Buddhism and Zen will be helpful to understand a few of these…not that it matters either way, since all is nothingness…so we might as well laugh about it.



Q: How many Zen buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three – one to change it, one to not-change it and one to both change-and not-change it.



Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bugger all.



Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.



Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Forget this and attaining Enlightenment
will be the least of your problems.



Drink tea and nourish life.
With the first sip… joy.
With the second… satisfaction.
With the third, peace.
With the fourth, a danish.


suzuki roshi reincarnation buddhism6.

A young woman asked Suzuki Roshi after a talk, “Roshi, sometimes when I’m trying to decide what I should do, I ask myself, ‘In this case, what would Roshi do?’ Should I continue that practice?”
Roshi answered, “Then should I also ask myself, ‘What would Roshi do?’



One zen student said, “My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.”
The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.”
The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”



Q: How much “ego” do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.
~ Shunryu Suzuki



“I gained nothing at all from Supreme Enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called Supreme Enlightenment.”

— Gautama Buddha



If there is no self,
whose arthritis is this?



About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


25 Responses to “10 Funny Zen Buddhist Jokes, 0 Punchlines.”

  1. Kara says:

    These should be ongoing posts. It screams "Waylon Lewis was here" – and will continue to be here if you believe in reincarnation. I keep a few yogi jokes under the ole belt buckle if needed.

  2. Kiiran says:


  3. sordog1 says:

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. learningcurvesblog says:

    Great, now I'm craving tea…=)

  5. […] present in your environment. The experience of that union requires absolute presence. Some call it Zen, some call it enlightenment. Those words don’t really matter. What matters is your intimate […]

  6. Rajni Tripathi says:

    LOL I just spit up all my tea because controlling my laugher was impossible!

  7. robertwolf681 says:

    A Zen Buddhist went into a pizza parlour. "What can I get you?" asked the waiter. "Make me one with everything," replied the Buddhist.

  8. Svaha says:

    After enjoying the meal and paying the staff, the customer asked for change. The waiter responded, "Change comes from within."

  9. […] So that’s sort of Buddhist humor. […]

  10. Did you hear the one about the new Buddhist vacuum cleaner? . . .

    It comes with no attachments!

  11. The zen teacher Seung Sahn offered this lesson at a retreat in San Francisco: "Do not eat and read the newspaper at the same time," he said. "When you eat, just eat. When you read the newspaper, just read the newspaper."

    The next morning, a student saw the teacher eating breakfast while reading the newspaper.

    "I thought you said not to eat and read the newspaper at the same time," the student said.

    To which Sahn said, "When you eat and read the newspaper, just eat and read the newspaper."

    from http://www.maui.net/~zen_gtr/zc24hour.html

  12. […] We got a problem of definition: everybody who seems like a hipster denies being a hipster, which koan-ally is a sure sign of being a […]

  13. Good stuff. Of course that first joke should include the whole tetralemma:

    One to change it;
    One to not-change it:
    One to both change and not-change it;
    One to neither change nor not-change it.

    Here's one more from Suzuki Roshi:
    "The secret of zen can be said in two words: 'not always so."'

  14. Chuck says:

    One time a student asked Maezumi Roshi at a talk at Dorje Dzong in Boulder, Colorado: "Christmas Humphries makes the distinction between no-mind and non-mind. Could you say something more about this distinction?" Roshi thought for a moment, musing to himself, "No-mind… non-mind…no-mind…" and then suddenly said, "Oh, I know! One has extra 'n'"!

  15. occultfan says:

    ha ha ha ha!!!

  16. occultfan says:

    I thought this was going to end with him somehow eating the newspaper, and then reading about it, or something.

  17. Tara says:

    LOL! I love the sleeping and eating one. 🙂

  18. John says:

    LOOL.. so funny

  19. shelby says:

    q: what did the buddhist monk say to the hotdog vendor?
    a: make me one with everything

  20. Bruce says:

    He paid with $10 and asked “where’s my change?” The vendor smiled and replied: “change comes from within”.

  21. Diana says:

    Where do Buddhists go to meet other single Buddhists?

    the singles Bardo.

  22. David Freiman | My Good Life Yoga says:

    Attributions? I believe some were lifted from copyrighted material. I recognize a few from "Zen Judaism"
    Here is a favorite:

    Be here now. Be someplace else later.
    Is that so complicated?"
    ~~~Zen Judaism: For You, A Little Enlightenment – David M. Bader

  23. Mike says:

    Hahaha really funny jokes 😀

  24. Will R says:

    So a Zen Master goes to a Hot Dog Stand hands the vendor a $20 and says Make me one with everything. He eats the hot dog and asks the vendor where is my change. The vendor replies Change must come from within