Many live their life seriously. They tend to take everything seriously, their goals, their things, their religion, their philosophy, their likes and dislikes, other people, themselves, everything. Life is a serious matter for them. They even laugh seriously and their sense of humor is serious. That is not necessarily a problem. I am alluding to a deeper issue: The Serious God.
Sense of humor in life
Next time, when you go into a temple, or your place of worship, just spend a minute or two to see how serious people are. Are they God’s children or His captives? Have they gone to the temple to receive some sentence? I am not suggesting that you go around looking like the Laughing Buddha when Vedic chants are going on, I am simply saying that humor is divine in itself and so is the sense of humor. A little humor can diffuse even the most difficult situations in life.
I am unsure if dogs or other animals laugh or smile. They seem to express their joy by gesticulating differently. Humor, among other things, is what sets the human race apart. Having a sense of humor or cultivating it can make you feel light and bright. Learn to laugh away at things, circumstances, and situations. Try! it is not hard.
In fact, as I write this I am reminded of a couple of verses:
प्रसादे सर्वदुखानां हानिरस्योपजायते ।
प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धिः पर्यव्तिष्ट्ते ।।
Prasādē sarvadukhānāṁ hānirasyōpajāyatē
Prasannacētasō hyaśu bud’dhiḥ paryavtiṣṭtē. (Bhagavad Gita 2.65)
When one is joyous from within, sorrow reduces drastically, almost disappearing. And such a contented and blissful yogin is able to take his mind off everything firmly establishing himself in the supreme soul.
ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ्क्षति ।
Brahmabhūta prasannātmā nā śōcati nā akāṅkṣiti… (ibid, 18.54)
The one who does not brood over matters and keeps himself free from expectations maintaining a cheerful disposition attains the highest form of bhakti.
मनः प्रसाद सौम्यत्वं…
Manaḥ prasāda saumyatvaṁ…(ibid, 17.16)
Maintaining a happy state is tapas of the mind…
Sense of Humor and God
If your practices, your God, and your path is missing humor, you should take a hard look at what it is that you have signed up for.
Observe the glowing face of a child next time. Wonder why they are glowing? They can laugh heartily; they express themselves freely. They can laugh at their own mistakes, at their own idiosyncratic behavior and choices. So, next time, when you are out shopping, and they are out of your favorite book, bagel or brownie, you know what to do! Without the stomping and tantrums hopefully. Carry some sense of humor.
They are happy as toddlers and as they start to get conditioned, they learn to become serious. I hope you know that God was laughing when He created the universe and beyond; for, if he was serious it would be impossible to create such wondrous and beautiful nature, atmosphere, climate, species, and the rest of it. You may also want to read about The Zen Mind.
Let me end with a little story on sense of humor:
Studded in the mountains in Japan stood a Zen monastery. Once, when the monks were meditating quietly, jitters of an earthquake were felt. The master rushed to the kitchen with his disciples.
After things calmed down, he addressed his disciples, saying, “You see that is the difference between a Zen master and an ordinary person. As you saw that even in the near-fatal crisis, I acted calmly and I led you all to the strongest part of this monastery. I did not panic. And it is because of that wise decision that you all are alive right now as you can see the ruins outside.
However, I must admit that despite my control, calmness, and composure, I did feel nervous. You may not have noticed it but that is the reason I gulped down the large glass of water on the table, something I wouldn’t do under ordinary circumstances.”
A young monk chuckled but stayed quiet.
“And, what are you laughing at?” the master asked looking somewhat upset.
“What you drank wasn’t water, Master,” the monk stood up and said bowing down, “it was a large glass of soy sauce!”
So, do you know the meaning behind this story? Oh! there is no meaning. Stop searching for meaning in everything. The past maybe had a meaning, the future may have, the present does not. It is too short to hold any comprehensible meaning, and it is for this reason you practically cannot define ‘now’, the present moment. Be in the moment. Learn to laugh.
Self-realization does not mean that you lose your human side. In fact, it means being able to laugh at it. To have a sense of humor.