Principle 101 – Humor

This entry is part 98 of 98 in the series Principles


Principle 101

The Principle of Humor

Those with an obvious good sense of humor are sometimes looked down upon by religious and other authorities as non conformists that need to be set straight. On the other hand, some great spiritual teachers recognize the value of well placed wit and humor. Not the least among these is DK through Alice A. Bailey who said this:

“There are two things which every disciple must some day learn, my brother. One is to cultivate the ability to “sit light in the saddle” (to use an old proverbial injunction) and the other is to develop a sense of humour, a real (not forced) capacity to laugh at oneself and with the world. This is one of the compensations which comes to those who can succeed in working in the light upon the mental plane. When you can do this, the constant tension under which you labour will adjust itself.

Discipleship in the new Age, Vol 1, Page 414

Lucille Cedercrans had this to say:

“Achieve to that perspective which is able to see yourself lalopping and laugh. It is a sense of humor that you need as you go into this training. See yourself in all of your failings, in all of your little miseries, in all of your ridiculous positions, then laugh. You see, it is this ability to laugh and to laugh particularly at one’s self which is the healing, the cure. It is this that makes it possible for you to pick up and to go along with whatever task you are presented. If you can laugh at yourself you can keep your head up in that Wisdom, regardless of where your feet may be walking or what your astral body may be doing (how much lalopping is going on). Still, if you are able to laugh you will keep your head in the Wisdom. If your head will stay up in the Wisdom, you can reach up every now and then and take a breath of it into yourself. Then it has to rub off; it has to come down to the feet and be grounded where you walk. It meets with the earth upon which you walk.”

Applied Wisdom, Page 813

Indeed. One of the hallmarks of the worker in the light is the ability to see humor, even in difficult situations. Many of those who have not yet transitioned into light and love take themselves and life much too seriously.

Humor is a somewhat illusive quality that is difficult to define, similar to that of love. You can read every dictionary definition and still not be able to put a finger on exactly what it is.

For instance, a common definition is, “Something that is funny or makes you laugh.” Overlooked is the real question which is: exactly what is it that makes something funny? A short black and white answer will not do here as a thing that is funny in one situation may not be funny at all in another.

For instance, a guy may offer some good-natured ribbing of a teammate in a locker room that draws a big laugh, but if the same thing were said at a Jane Austin book club meeting there may be outrage instead.

So what is the illusive principle that makes us laugh? In a nutshell it is this:

Humor, or that which is funny, is created when the dialog takes an unexpected, but pleasant twist. There is an element of mild surprise and often subtle truth in those statements that make us smile or laugh.

Let us examine a couple jokes from one of my favorite comedians, Steven Wright.

“OK, so what’s the speed of dark?”

This is a play on the speed of light which was discovered after a very serious scientific investigation. It is unexpected that anyone would even consider that darkness has a speed and the fact that it makes light of a serious subject adds to the humor.

Here’s another:

“Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.”

It is unexpected that anyone would think of being lazy as rewarding, but when you think about it there is some immediate reward to it. The unexpected but pleasant twist to thinking makes it funny. Don’t tell this joke to your boss while you are working on a deadline as he may not think it is funny.

Here’s one more example:

“I intend to live forever – so far, so good.”

Again we see humor here because of a pleasant but unexpected twist. The reader may smile and say to himself, “The guy has a point. So far so good for me too.”

Let me tell you of a time that an unexpected statement really made me laugh. At one time I was thinking of going into the insurance business and I attended a presentation given by the owner of the company. Now I expected this guy to be very serious because selling insurance was a very serious business and as he began his presentation everything was proceeding about the way I expected until the guy just stopped and brushed his hand against his nose and made this statement, “Hmmm,” he said, “I think I have a booger in my nose.” That not only made me laugh but the whole room just exploded in laughter. That was the last thing that I ever expected to come out of his mouth at that time.

Overall then here are some, but probably not all, of the ingredients of good humor.

  1. The unexpected
  2. A subtle truth isn’t always necessary, but helps.
  3. It should be a pleasant thing to hear for the receiver.
  4. It should not insult the receiver’s belief system. For instance, a joke making fun of God may be funny to an atheist group, but not to a church group.
  5. Timing. This is very important and perhaps the most difficult to learn. Sometimes a statement said at just the right time may be hilarious, but fall completely flat when the timing is off.

There are many benefits of laughter, not the least of which is one’s health.

I first became aware of the healing qualities of humor many years ago when I read about the experience of the famous writer and editor, Norman Cousins. In 1964 he was diagnosed with a terminal and painful disease called, ankylosing spondylitis. The doctors told him that he only had a few months to live.

After concluding that the orthodox treatments he was given was accomplishing nothing he decided to treat himself. He felt his disease was triggered by stress and the best anti stress medicine is laughter. He checked himself out of the hospital and sealed himself in his room and read every comedic writing and watched every funny movie he could get his hands on. When something tickled his funnybone he went with the laughter as much as possible.

Within a month he had greatly improved and his doctors were amazed and couldn’t believe that laughter had anything to do with it. Within six months he was completely cured and went back to work full time.

His story inspired a movie and stimulated significant research. Since then they have concluded that humor stimulates a number of health benefits such as”

  • It relieves stress and relaxes your whole body
  • It boosts the immune system
  • It triggers the release of endorphins causing a natural high relieving distress and pain.
  • It increases blood flow making for a healthier heart and circulation.
  • Laughter helps you live longer according to a study in Norway. It is particularly helpful for cancer victims.

In addition to health benefits there are many spiritual ones. Those without much humor in their lives tend to focus on the negative and keep their attention there so much that their mood is soured and negativity seems to fill their lives. They tend to be quite pessimistic.

Laughter shifts ones attention away from the negative and causes the consciousness to put things in perspective. Yeah, maybe you’ve had a bad day, but after a good laugh you see that, all things considered, it wasn’t so bad after all.

A good sense of humor helps the spiritual seeker stay focused on the essential of reality and avoid pitfalls such as;

  • Taking himself too seriously
  • Trying to assert too much control over other people
  • Avoiding a messiah complex
  • Being an unpleasant associate.

If he ventures into teaching a little humor goes a long way into making the presentation more interesting.

Overall, there is no downside to humor in right proportions. May we all add some of its spice to our lives.

Copyright by J J Dewey

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2 thoughts on “Principle 101 – Humor

  1. I wrote this back in July of 2015:

    “Shalom JJ, yes, and at least it is a sincere and truthful private interpretation, without any attempt at humor. You have hundreds if not thousands of private interpretations concerning the Scriptures on, are they sincere and truthful, or is it again your attempt at humor? I will leave you alone for a while as you appear to have your hands full. Blessings in The Name, ImAHebrew”.

    Have I left you alone for long enough?

  2. Laughter is the best medicine……especially when one realises that we are really just the manifested imagination of a higher intelligence…………

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