The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. This article is another in a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life mission statement is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.
The tenth component of spiritual health is laughter, What is the opposite of laughter? It is being judgmental, too serious, rigid, obsessive, exuding contempt and disdain stemming from a place of arrogance, pride, and superiority.
When people are stressed and taking things too seriously, it might be suggested that they lighten up. There is relief in recognizing and acknowledging the paradoxical nature of things, the inherent contradictions and absurdity of the beliefs of the ego.
We learn in the Tao Te Ching about the dichotomous mind that learns about the ego world from comparisons, contrast, division, and separation and yet the yin and yang make up the whole. It is seeing the whole and the mistake of taking the yin or yang as serious that is funny.
It is important to laugh with people and not at people. Laughter which is sarcastic and communicates contempt and disdain is not funny but a veiled form of attack. When a person objects to teasing or joking as being hurtful, to excuse one’s attack by saying, “What’s the matter? Can’t you take a joke?” is not the kind of humor and laughter that is being described here.
Laughter, like choral music, is to be shared and enjoyed together. This kind of laughter and humor is a form of joining and alliance with others. It is a mutual recognition and acknowledgment of the absurdity, and silliness of the world of the ego. Holy laughter is a form of love. Laughter at the expense of another communicating contempt and disdain and superiority and judgment is an attack that can break someone’s heart and spirit.
A good sense of humor is endearing. A bad sense of humor is a sin in two ways. First it is a hurtful attack, and second the attack is hidden in such a way that if the victim objects, the victim is further victimized by being belittled and criticized for their objection as if there is something wrong with them for objecting.
I imagine Jesus laughing when, hanging on the cross, he says “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they didn’t. And we are still talking about this over 2,000 years later. It is funny that the Romans thought they could get rid of Jesus, a perceived trouble maker, by killing His body. Little did they know that His Spirit would influence humankind for millenia.
We have an expression, “You can either laugh or cry,” or perhaps a little of both. While we are hurt and sad when our ego is attacked and injured, there is part of us, in our Spirit, that knows we, as the beloved creations of God, are invincible and so the whole tragic drama becomes a comedy.
What do we put our faith in? Do we put our faith in the seriousness of the ego or the lightness of the Spirit which sees through the whole joke of the ego world?