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Humour and Spirituality

The word ‘Humour’ gives one an undemanding, petty and childish feeling even though it is loved and enjoyed by all. Many think, to be successful in life, one should be very serious at all times. For them, to be serious is to have a grim face, forever with a frown and never smiling back to even a small child. Many think to be humorous is to be like a joker in the group.

Even the word ‘spirituality’ carries a feeling that it is something very serious. Many people think that it is for those who are of no use to the society, it is for the depressed and dejected, an occupation for the old and to be undertaken after retirement.

We need to see really what is ‘Spirituality’ and ‘Humour’. Thus, we must enquire whether we need these in one’s life. The wise have said that spirituality is the science by which a human can become divine. As Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda says, “It’s a certain way to look at all things”. It is a vision transforming process. Humour is the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical. In other words, humour is something which makes us laugh. Every being is only craving for happiness. But we humans have the advantage that we can make our life by proper choices. How to make a proper choice? It all depends on the thoughts one entertains and these thoughts spring from the ‘vision’ possessed by that individual. Since spirituality gives a holistic vision to the individual, it is very important to be spiritual. We will see how humour works. Any object in this world can trigger humour in us. The only thing required is that we should have the eye to see humour and the mind to appreciate it. If we analyse carefully humour, we can understand that oddity is what creates humour. Anything unusual can create humour, but when the oddity goes away and we become familiar to it, the very same thing is not humorous anymore for us. What is the connection between spirituality and humour? The scriptures tell us that the highest evolved spiritual person is called a ‘Jévanmukta’ – liberated while living. For him, the world is not at all there. He knows that the entire world is an illusion and it is his own mental projection. Then, for him all the happenings of the world will just be a comedy because he knows that it is not real. It is like the director of a horror movie, he never gets scared of his own film, but others are not even opening their eyes to see the movie because they are frightened. Really speaking, a Jévanmukta alone can see humour everywhere and enjoy it. Spirituality alone in its highest sense creates real humour. You may think that this is funny, but it is the fact.

When we invoke Gurudev as “Om Vinodapriyäya Namaù” – Salutations to the lover of humour, it does not just mean that Gurudev was a person who loved telling jokes. Obviously, the wit and humour Gurudev used during his talks and personal interactions cannot be seen in any ordinary person, but this name has a deeper implication. Gurudev had a very playful attitude towards life. Ever happy within while seeing the world outside with unparalleled humour, he was just watching the comedy going on. Once, someone interrupted Gurudev while he was doing some work, with the usual apologetic gesture – “Am I disturbing you Swamiji?” Gurudev’s instant reply was, “You tried, but I am not”. On the spot, it was sounding as a humorous reply because of the pun and quick wit. But if we analyse it, we can see that he was actually never disturbed by anything of the world. How to develop this attitude in our life? They say, “siddhasya lakñaëäni sädhakasya sädhanäni an accomplished person’s characteristics should be the practice of a seeker.” By practicing this vision, the seeker also will evolve and become like the Siddha. Start working in the world outside as if it is a comedy play going on, without any stress and strain. Seeing life as comedy does not mean that we are reducing the importance of life or not putting sufficient effort to succeed in life. If we need to do anything efficiently, we should be calm and cool at the mental level and, for that, having a sense of humour will surely help. Seeing life as a comedy is actually an indication that the person is thinking. As Horace Walpole says, “Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel” (All the world is a stage). When we start seeing the world through the eyes of a Jévanmukta, we all start evolving. That is the purpose of each and every human.

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