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January 2002


HUMOR: A NATURAL FAITH-LIFT

Introduction by Paula Peterson

Before you get to the fun humor below I'd like to clarify a misconception. A few readers wrote in asking about The World's Hardest IQ Test that I completed many years ago which declared me a genius. There was a "tone" of skepticism in some of those letters and I can certainly understand why. I was skeptical, too, when I received the rating of genius (ME??? A genius? The laughter was just too hard to contain....). However, once I learned how the test institute arrived at a rating of "genius", I understood perfectly and my laughter subsided into a glow of humble satisfaction.

Authentic genius has nothing to do with how "smart" one appears to others. Nor does it have to do with how well one can memorize facts and recite them. And thank God, it has nothing to do with how well one can do math (urgh!) I was never good at math beyond simple arithmetic (although I managed a "B" average in trigonometry and I still don't know how I did it).

Authentic genius is based on how creative one is and how well one is able to draw upon that creativity to effectively solve problems.

This was a test vastly different than anything I had ever seen before - or since. It was largely comprised of puzzles and problems that drew upon a certain portion of the brain. Some of the test sections drew upon intuition, other sections drew upon different abilities while other sections drew upon the ability to construct holographic images - with your mind (using the third eye)! It was a fascinating test. To tell you the truth, I found myself very stimulated by it. I could feel parts of my brain "lighting up", creating a bit of a natural "high".

Yes, I'm highly creative and yes, I'm quite intuitive - my "third eye" is very "open". Although, this does not make me a master at eking out a prosperous living (a talent which I seem to have to work harder at to develop). Nevertheless, I can be highly resourceful and creative with whatever I've got to work with. I was able to walk away from the "corporate nine-to-five" world and, aside from some financial ups and downs, time out for healing and a temporary part-time job for a couple of months here and there, I've been self-employed about 85% of these past 15 years through projects, seminars and activities that were totally based on inspiration and original creativity. Well, 'nuff said about all that.

Some of you may find it interesting to know that when Einstein was a little boy, he was thought to be retarded. He could not do certain simple tasks that were easy for other children his age. He did not easily fit into the "normal" world. Genius has nothing to do with "fitting in" and being better at doing what everyone else does.

Not!

Through creativity and a person's ability to use that creativity effectively is when true genius is born. So if you think that you could never be a genius - you are wrong! Most of you reading this have genius that you don't know you have. However, most of you don't give yourself enough time - or enough belief in yourself - to discover what your particular genius is. It's different for every one.

Below is humor from one of my favorites - Swami Beyondananda. I had the pleasure of spending about 3 days with the Swami and his beautiful wife when they lodged at the home I was living in a few years ago. He was hilarious, kind, gracious and also very wise. It sometimes took awhile to get through our meals together at the table because we were all laughing so much. It was great fun. Enjoy the humor.... and the wisdom of laughter. Namaste' - Paula Peterson


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LAUGHTER CAN GIVE YOU A NATURAL FAITH-LIFT

by Swami Beyondananda


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"Life is indeed a joke -- but God is laughing with us, not at us."

As we begin the new year, it's reminder to us of new beginnings. Because if the new year were to be just like the old year, we wouldn't actually need a new year, would we? We could just watch re- runs. Which is what many of us do anyway. So much of our activity is "dejŚ do" -- if we wonder, "haven't I done this before?" we probably have. And if we start to wonder why we keeping stepping into the same mess time and time again, it's because dejŚ do can very easily become dejŚ doo-doo.

In awakening to a truly new year -- like awakening to a truly new day that we live in the present moment instead of habitually re- treading the steps of the past -- humor and laughter are powerful tools for helping us see new pathways instead of just the old ones.

I have often said (and since I'm saying it right now, for those of you keeping score, here's one more time) that the key to becoming a foo-ling master is not in "being funny" but in "seeing funny." As the Swami has told us, each of us is already hilariously funny. If we don't believe it, just ask God. But seeing funny is seeing just how funny we be -- and when we do, we actually have an opportunity to laugh along with God.

Laughter can even shake us to our foundation -- which brings us to "faith." Now perhaps you atheists and agnostics reading this are starting to feel left out, but I assure you that you are as faithful as the most devout believer. Atheists simply have faith in the non- existence of God, and agnostics have faith in uncertainty. Which is not a bad thing. For it has been said that the only thing certain in life is uncertainty, so if you have faith in uncertainty, the more uncertain things get, the more secure you feel!

And while it makes sense to have faith in the uncertainty of circumstance it also makes sense to have faith in the loving nature of life. Those who have studied the mystics say there are two kinds of mystics in this world -- the optimystics and the pessimystics.

The pessimystics are very much in touch with reality, but for some reason the optimystics are happier and live longer. Or as the pessimystic once said to the optimystic (with some degree of frustration), "You don't really feel happy -- you just think you feel happy!"

Laughter is our physical manifestation of joy, a reminder that the Universe -- as Albert Einstein put it -- is a friendly place. Levity is the force given to us to counterbalance the gravity in life, because indeed it helps us rise above whatever is bringing us down.

So if we are to choose humor that cultivates our faith in life, then the joke must have life "win" in the end. In his book Laughter in Hell, Steve Lipman examines the use of humor during the Holocaust as a source of healing and inspiration. One of the jokes -- which actually circulated among death camp inmates -- which best illustrates the spiritual "leverage" laughter can bring involves two Jews who decide to assassinate Hitler.

They know his motorcade passes a particular intersection every day at 11:00 a.m., and they are waiting for him. But 11:00 a.m. comes and goes, and no sign of the motorcade. Before long it's 11:15, and then 11:30 and the FŁhrer hasn't arrived. When Hilter still hasn't gotten there by 11:45, one of the would-be assassins turns to the other and says, "Gee, I hope nothing has happened to him."

Most of us, thank God, don't have to face hell on a daily basis, but we all from time to time find ourselves in "heck" -- that's where nothing really terrible happens, but instead we're plagued by life's minor annoyances. And while "darnation" is in no way life- threatening, daily frustrations have a way of wearing us down -- and after a while, we forget that life is fundamentally fun. That's how minor irregularhilarity can turn into full-blown case of humorrhoids.

Not too long ago, I was in a K-Mart looking for housewares, and asked an employee for assistance. The woman who turned around to help me looked like she'd been in one motorcycle wreck too many. She was tough, wiry, gritty and grumpy. She limped off to help me, muttering to herself. And when she came back, she announced, "It's been one of those days."

"Well," I said (with a little too much cheer, I now realize), "That could change."

"Yeah," she agreed, "it could get worse."

"Mind if I share a story?" I asked. Since her alternative was getting right back to work, I could see she figured there was nothing to lose.

"Okay," she nodded. Whereupon I told her about two friends who meet on the street after not having seen each other for 25 years.

"So good to see you," says the first one. "Tell me, how's your wife?"

"Don't even ask," says the other. "She divorced me, and got everything I own in the settlement."

"Could be worse," said the friend cheerily. "How's your business?"

"Another terrible tragedy," replies the other. "It burned to the ground, only my fire insurance had lapsed two days earlier and I didn't know it. Lost everything."

"It could be worse," said the friend. "And how is your son?"

Well, at this point the afflicted friend got a particularly painful look on his face. "That is the saddest tragedy of all," he said. "I had such great hopes for him. I imagined that one day he'd be saying, `I would like to thank the Nobel Prize Committee.' Instead, he's saying, `You want fries with that?'"

And once again the friend replies, "Could be worse."

At this point the man with all the problems got very upset. "Everything I say, you say, `could be worse, could be worse, could be worse.' How could it possibly be worse?"

"Could be happening to me," was the friend's reply.

In spite of herself, the K-Mart gal chuckled and broke into a big grin. Who knows? Maybe later she went back to her grumpy self. But for the moment, the pattern was interrupted -- and she looked about ten years younger.

It's been said that the best thing about "waking up laughing" is that laughter often leaves a smile in its wake. And as the Swami says, getting good smileage can add years to the life of your karma!

The most powerful healing kind of laughter simultaneously liberates us from "faith" and re-affirms it. How? Laughing along with the Creator at our own foibles and the fickle finger of fate reminds us that faith in things turning out exactly the way we want is foolish.

But at the same time loving, hearty laughter reminds us that there is a force and order to life that is bigger than our smaller concerns. So -- as the Swami says -- why resist a Farce that is greater than any of us? If life is a sitcom, may as well sit calm and enjoy it.

Steve Bhaerman

SWAMI BEYONDANANDA

wakeuplaughing@hotmail.com


Have a great day !!  
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