Sudden new insight comes not only as a surprise. Often it comes with a laugh and a shout of joy.
When Archimedes suddenly perceived the principle of buoyancy, he ran in the streets of ancient
Syracuse shouting 'Eureka!' His elation come not only from his primary discovery but also from a
related one - that this principle had always been the same, had always been there, waiting to be
perceived. Suddenly he had 'eyes' to see.
In the same way when we are baffled by a conundrum and a simple answer exposes the whole
thing, this sudden insight makes us laugh. The exposure shows how we had been tricked into making
a wrong interpretation, and at the same time our perception makes a flip-flop. We know at once
both the solution and the error that had prevented the solution. Our
blinders are gone, and suddenly
we have 'eyes to see' what was already there. Even chagrin at having been fooled does not prevent
a laugh or smile at this dual discovery.
But our search for mystical insight as to the true nature of relationships of all things, can sometimes
become a bit grim and determined. We take the search and we anticipate the revelation, in terms
of some framework to which we have subscribed. Then it seems that there must be some other secret
fact which, if we could grasp it, would unlock the whole mystery. Yet when it happens, or when one
comes a step closer to solving it, the answer is seldom what had been anticipated. It is a surprise
discovery, like a gift of grace and causes a gasp, a laugh, and elation.
Some find it not at all somber; rather it is like being flooded with affection, and with great good
humor. If anticipation has closed off this sort of response, it may have closed off the possibility of
such a contact. Spiritual unfoldment without laughter may be suspect as being on the wrong track.
Gay laughter is a typical reaction of Zen students when they achieve a breakthrough in
understanding. And Zen adepts delight in baiting each other with attractive fallacies, which they must
see through to their further delight. Their framework for this pursuit and their expectations are not
encumbered by theological considerations such as are prevalent in western thinking.
In a departure from such traditional thinking, Eugene O'Neil dramatized how Lazarus might have
reacted to circumstances after his experience of having been recalled from the dead. The title of his
play, "Lazarus Laughed", tells the gist of it. He laughed joyously, even at danger, because he knew
things from a different point of view.
Mystics and saints who achieved cosmic consciousness came from all kinds of backgrounds -
Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi, Atheist and many others including so-called
primitive people. This experience is universal, not exclusive to any system of belief or thinking. And
a common theme among these seekers of light has to do with a different way of seeing or
apprehending things, and the sudden joy of its discovery.
Our own reasoned anticipation as to a different spiritual perspective is that it would come from a
different point, a different observation post. That is, the new would be from there, not from here.
Also we accept that the search may be long, lasting even after we have graduated out of this world
with its restricted view (or like Lazarus who had been there but returned). That is, the new perspective
will be then, not now.
Herein is the matrix, the set-up, for the biggest laugh of all - discovery that what we seek and hope
for is here and now. "The kingdom of God is in your midst," and it has been here all the time. This
is the laughter of the gods, which is not amusement at our human blindness but delight in being freed
from it. It is this release, and this laughter that makes us gods. Would not laughter itself be good
practice in anticipation of any spiritual discovery?