The Theosophical Forum – August 1946


A religion that is long-faced is no true religion at all. The sense of fun, that deep, good-humored undercurrent in every normal human heart, has in it the purest elements of reverence. Yielding to it, perhaps at moments of greatest stress and strain, we hear the laughter of the gods — a laughter that can be and is wholly compassionate because they see the larger vision of things, the perspective of destiny that is hidden from our lesser human sight. Theosophy, in its religious aspect, admits of fun and humor up to the very last steps upon the heights of attainment.

When A. P. Sinnett sent a present of a pipe to the Master M. (p. 374 of The Mahatma Letters) the answer came, ". . . The pipe is short and my nose long, so we will agree very well together, I hope. . ." H. P. Blavatsky's sparkling wit enlivens her writings so that they are a perennial delight. Her frequent references to her "Kalmuk" features, and humorous allusions to the many tragic situations in which she found herself through the duplicity or cruelty of others, are classics of the tragi-comic. We have the story of William Q. Judge playing leap-frog with Olcott and the Messrs. Keightley in the back garden of the London Headquarters after one of the worst of the meetings during his persecution when the tension was at its height. Those now living who knew Judge still carry with them the memory of his flashing smile, hinting at volumes of humorous possibilities that might lie behind it. Katherine Tingley would entertain us by the hour with madcap tales of her girlhood escapades, while her hands as well as ours were busy with sewing in preparation for one of her great dramatic productions at Point Loma. An early keynote given by her to her students was the now familiar "Life is joy!" Dr. de Purucker had a great sense of the whimsical, and took the most exquisite delight in small drolleries. With all four of these beloved Teachers there was that indescribable quality of artless glee that can only be thought of as childlike in the truest sense, for they had indeed touched, more nearly than we, the "kingdom of heaven." We might add here in passing that that happy freedom of spirit is still with us in our present Leader.

And what is the significance of all this? Is the sense of humor merely a shallow means of relieving the tension of strenuous effort such as has always been necessary in our Theosophical work as in all normal and beautiful human activity? G. de P., who let us in on so many sidelights to the Teachings, always pointed out that the sense of humor is a spiritual quality. And we can easily see why. We can see what a safeguard it can be on the Path, preventing us from taking ourselves — our personal small selves — too seriously, saving us from some of the most — to us unsuspected, but in the eyes of the Teachers the most obvious — pitfalls connected with an undue solemn sense of our own great worthiness and consequent importance, and of what we consider is our due after many years of devoted service, etc. There is no more wholesome homily, for Theosophist or non-Theosophist, than G. de P.'s talk on "Why not Laugh at Yourself?" which is to be found on page 75 of his posthumous book Wind of the Spirit. As a fellow-student has just aptly remarked, "Were it possible, all solemnity and no humor would make man a dull and stupid creature, and perhaps even an evil creature." Even so.

The Laughter of the Gods! Healing in its compassionate undertones; terrible in its reverberations; bringing gentle ease to those tired for the moment in their efforts for others; shaking with its thunders the very foundations of those houses built with cards, the haunts of self-seeking and selfishness: — a laughter that we can never understand until we move away from the confines of the petty and the small, and enter into the gods" own spacious dwellings, where we may have some share in their confabulations for the benefit of the world and all creatures.

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