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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?

  1. (a) What example does the writer give to show that insight comes with joy ?
    (b) Why did Archimedes feel elated ?
    (c) How do we feel if we get a sudden insight and what do we know ?
  2. (a) Why would our search for mystical insight become grim ?
    (b) What's wrong with spiritual learning without laughter ?
    (c) Explain the world of Zen students.
  3. (a) Why did Lazarus laugh and what does it tell us ?
    (b) Who achieves Cosmic consciousness ?
    (c) What is our reasoned anticipation about spiritual insight ?
    (d) What is the laughter of the gods directed at ?
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   perceived   v.   unfoldment
      ii.   elation   vi.   encumbered
      iii.   blinders   vii.   gist
      iv.   chagrin   viii.   apprehending
  5. In your own words, describe what would be a mystic's reaction when the attains realization. Give examples and do not use more than 160 words.
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  1. (a) The example given is that of Archimedes who, upon discovering the law of flotation, ran through the streets shouting, "Eureka !"
    (b) Archimedes felt elated both from the fact that he had discovered something but also from the realization that it had always been there before him but not seen by him.
    (c) Realizing something suddenly makes us laugh and we might see that we had been tricked into making wrong conclusions.
  2. (a) It is grim because we anticipate the experience basing it on what we know.
    (b) If we experience spiritual unfoldment without laughter, it may be that we are not on the correct path.
    (c) Zen students like to bait each other with fallacies and when they break through into enlightenment, laugh gaily.
  3. (a) Lazarus laughed gaily because, having experienced death, he saw everything in a different light.
    (b) Cosmic consciousness is achieved by people from all kinds of backgrounds -- including Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and even Atheist.
    (c) we anticipate that spiritual insight comes from a different angle, a different point of view from the one we are used to.
    (d) The gods laugh not at us and our weaknesses but in happiness at our having found our freedom.
  4. i saw
    ii happiness
    iii hoods
    iv anger
    v opening
    vi blocked
    vii essence
    viii understanding
  5. Like Archimedes who ran happily through the streets when he discovered the law of flotation, the mystic is liable to laugh merrily when he experiences spiritual realization. The sudden flood of realization makes him laugh happily. The mystic has his idea, based in his experiences, what to anticipate but when it happens, he is overcome by it because it comes from an unexpected source. It is as if a secret is unlocked but which at the same time is something that had been there all the time for the mystic to see, but had been hidden from him.

Some adepts find it not at all a serious experience but rather like being flooded with a sudden onrush of love. Cosmic consciousness is experienced by all sorts of people, from every religion, everywhere. Discovering it is like discovering the kingdom of God -- which is within. It is as if the gods are laughing in happiness when we discover it. ( 158 words )


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Comprehension 1


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