During a photo session at a Clown-Zen workshop this spring, Heinz-Jürgen Metzger in Zen robes, myself in Mr Miniscule outfit, a comment offered up by Jawoo 10 days earlier floated to the surface. Jawoo is a Korean nun who participated in this year’s Buddha’s Birthday workshop/performance at the Zen Center of Los Angeles. During our performance, she won the Baby Buddha contest, the ZCLA sangha giving her the win by an overwhelming voice vote. I suspect that her winning had more to do with her having spent the past 3 months at the center more than her ability to keep a Buddha like composure as a large ladle-full of cold water was poured over her head.
I am not sure that Jawoo appreciated the winning prize, a surprise from behind bowl-full of water, even if she was ritually appointed with rain poncho and shower cap.
Jawoo’s exact words have escaped, so I paraphrase: There is no room for ego in clowning, no way for one’s ego to be present when one is in clown mode.
When I mentioned Ja Woo’s comment to my friend Isabel, she said “Well of course, if you are present in the moment, then your ego is not present, and Clowning is all about being present in the moment.”
I had another perspective, clowning eliminates most of what I often associate with ego—feeling important, special, separate. When one is embracing one’s foolishness, the idea is to be the lowest person on the Totem pole. In the act of being ridiculous, or absurd—while taking on a willingness to be laughed at-as well as with— It becomes truly difficult to puff up one’s chest and strut one’s stuff.