Religion has been missing one very fundamental quality: the sense of humour. It’s unfortunate, because it has made religion sickening and suffocating.
A sense of humour is an essential part of the wholeness of man. It keeps him healthy, young, and fresh. And for centuries the sad people have dominated religion. They have expelled laughter — from churches, mosques and from temples. The day laughter enters back into the holy places they will be really holy, because they will be whole.
Laughter is the only quality that distinguishes man from other animals. Only man can see the ridiculous, the absurd. Only he has the capacity and the consciousness to be aware of the cosmic joke that existence is. It is a cosmic joke; it is not a serious affair. When spiritual knowledge matures then one realizes that the entire existence is nothing but an encyclopedia of jokes. One is able to see the funny side of it all. Thereafter one can never be serious in life.
Seriousness is a disease, but seriousness has been praised, respected, honoured. Actually being serious is against our very nature, which is of absolute, infinite, eternal bliss. It was absolutely essential to be serious to be a saint; hence only, people who were incapable of laughter became interested in religion. And people who are incapable of laughter are not human yet — they are still evolving to be fully human from animal stage — what to say about their being divine? That is impossible — they have not yet become human. Hence there should be tremendous respect for the sense of humour, for laughter.
Laughter is far more sacred than prayer, because prayer can be done by any one; it does not require much intelligence. Laughter requires intelligence; it requires presence of mind, a quickness of seeing into things. A joke cannot be explained: either we understand it or we miss it. If it is explained it loses the whole point; hence no joke can be explained. Either we get it immediately or we can try to find out the meaning of it; we will find out the meaning, but the joke will not be there. It was in the immediacy.
Humour needs presence, utter presence. It is not a question of analysis; it is a question of insight. The highest spirituality is having hundred percent presence in the present moment.
To be able to laugh, we need to be like a child — egoless. And when we laugh, suddenly laughter is there, we are not. We come back when the laughter is gone. When the laughter is disappearing, when it is subsiding, we come back, the ego comes back. But in the very moment of laughter we have a glimpse of egolessness. Spirituality is all about being in a realm devoid of ego and that is the highest purpose of human existence.
There are only two activities in which we can feel egolessness easily. One is laughter, another is dancing. Dancing is a physical method, a bodily method to feel egolessness. Dervishes follow this method. When the dancer is lost in his dance he is no more — there is only dance. Laughter is a little more subtle than dance, it is a little more inner, but it has also the same fragrance. When we laugh….it has to be a belly laughter. It has to be without any inhibitions. It should be able to bring tears to the eyes.
We should laugh so that our whole body, our whole being becomes involved, and suddenly there will be a glimpse. For the moment the past disappears, the future, the ego, everything disappears — there is only laughter. And in that moment of laughter we will be able to see the whole of existence laughing. In that moment of laughter the mind is completely empty. In that moment one may get a subtle spiritual insight. One becomes one with the Absolute Reality.
Lord Krishna taught us to smile irrespective of our situation and circumstances and not to take anything seriously. He demonstrated this in his own life. People were after his life right from the birth itself. Throughout his life he had to endure those who hated him, criticized him, feared him, etc. But the worst thing was to see the destruction of his clan. Through all these the smile never left his face.
That smile expanded into a full-fledged laughter by the time the great Zen Master Hotei, more popularly known as the laughing Buddha, appeared.
Today most people have forgotten how to laugh. Even if they are tickled, it will not invoke even a smile on their face!
You don’t stop laughing when you die. You are as dead (before actually dropping the body) when you stop laughing.
Lao Tzu had a sense of humour. Maybe because of that he could not become the founder of a great religion. He used to ride a buffalo. Now, couldn’t he find a horse? Anybody could have afforded at least a donkey — but a buffalo…and that too, sitting backwards?! The buffalo is going one way and Lao Tzu is looking the other way. He must have created laughter wherever he passed. Life is not a tragedy, it is a comedy for those who have a deeper insight into the reality or rather the unreality of this existence!! – The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
The purpose of religion and spirituality is to lead us to absolute, eternal, infinite happiness. In this journey religion is like the husk and spirituality is the real thing — the kernel. The ultimate goal of all spirituality is to discover our essential nature, the Real Self, the source of infinite, eternal absolute Bliss.
There is not a shred of evidence to prove that life is serious. When we realise the eternal blissful Self, we can never ever be serious in life. Then the entire existence is nothing but an encyclopedia of jokes!!
A Masters job is to teach people to laugh. A clown gets us to laugh at him, a Master teaches us to laugh at ourselves.