Program 5: Soul Laughter
The Comic Core of Spirituality
For many of the religious greats, life was inconceivable without humor. When Abraham and Sarah heard that they would have a son in their old age, they laughed, and even named the boy "laughter" (Isaac). "If you're not allowed to laugh in heaven," Martin Luther quipped, "I don't want to go there." Mother Teresa said, "We can give the poor everything, even our life; but if we do not give them a smile, we do not give anything." The mystic Meister Eckhart even preached a sermon, "God Laughs and Plays." Ordinary people, too, appreciate the spiritual value of humor. In a Newsweek poll, 74% of Americans said that there will be laughter in heaven.
Most religions, unfortunately, ignore or even suppress humor. When the clergy preach about faith, they seldom mention that holy people have laughed about their troubles precisely because their faith was so strong. And when preachers say that we need to view our lives from a higher, more divine perspective, they don't tell us that humor provides exactly that perspective.
This program takes the lid off the best-kept of spiritual secrets: that laughter energizes soul, mind, and body. Looking into the Biblical religions and the Eastern traditions, we demolish the traditional religious prejudices against humor, explain why humans are the only creatures that laugh, and examine spiritual lessons of the great comics like Charlie Chaplin. We also explore the value of humor in the most serious situations, especially illness and death. Lastly we show how a balance between play and work is essential for spiritual health.