That there is such a thing as the rotund ‘Laughing Buddha’ one can see small statuettes of in Asiatic little shops everywhere, is an encouraging sign that human beings insist on the Sacred and the Holy to be also capable of plain fun. When I was a young teacher of the Classics and still living in France, I knew nothing yet of any Laughing Buddha, and I was a rather dreadfully serious person myself, yet I did insist with a strange but strong inner certitude that in God’s nature there must be also room for fun, for a sense of humour, for laughter, because it just feels so goo when one laughs a good belly laugh!…. So when the books of Sri Aurobindo came into my hands in 1971, it is with utter joy and satisfaction that I discovered in his ‘Thoughts & Aphorisms’ (written in 1913) such fabulous pronouncements as these:
(80) To listen to some devout people, one would imagine God never laughs; Heine was nearer the mark when he found in Him the divine Aristophanes.
(81) God’s laughter is sometimes very coarse and unfit for polite ears; He is not satisfied with being Molière, He must needs also be Aristophanes and Rabelais.
(82) If men took life less seriously, they could very soon make it more perfect. God never takes His works seriously; therefore one looks out on this wonderful Universe.
(306) Three times God laughed at Shankara, first when he returned to burn the corpse of his mother, again, when he commented on the Isha Upanishad, and the third time when he stormed about India preaching inaction.
(380) It is well not to be too loosely playful in one’s games or too grimly serious in one’s life and works. We seek in both a playful freedom and a serious order.
(430) The philosophers who reject the world as Maya, are very wise and austere and holy; but I cannot help thinking sometimes that they are also just a little bit stupid and allow God to cheat them too easily.
(431) For my part I think I have a right to insist on God giving Himself to me in the world as well as out of it. Why did he make it at all, if He wanted to escape that obligation?
(475) Discipleship to God the Teacher, sonship to God the Father, tenderness of God the Mother, clasp of the hand of the divine Friend, laughter and sport with our Comrade and Playfellow, blissful servitude to God the Master, rapturous love of our divine Paramour, these are the seven beatitudes of life in the human body. Canst thou unite all these in a single supreme and rainbow-hued relation? Then hast thou no need of heaven and thou exceedest the emancipation of the Advaitin.
(476) When will the world change into the model of heaven? When all mankind becomes boys and girls together with God revealed as Krishna and Kali, the happiest boy and the strongest girl of the crowd, playing together in the gardens of Paradise. The Semitic Eden was well enough, but Adam and Eve were too grown up and its God himself too old and stern and solemn for the offer of the Serpent to be resisted.
(477) The Semites have afflicted mankind with the conception of a God who is a stern and dignified king and solemn judge and knows not mirth. But we who have seen Krishna, know Him for a boy fond of play and a child full of mischief and happy laughter.
(478) A God who cannot smile could have not created this humorous universe.
(480) When I suffer from pain or grief or mischance, I say “So, my old Playfellow, thou hast taken again to bullying me,” and I sit down to possess the pleasure of the pain, the joy of the grief, the good fortune of the mischance; then he sees He is found out and takes His ghosts and bugbears away from me.
(494) I used to hate and avoid pain and resent its infliction; but now I find that had I not suffered, I would not now possess, trained and perfected, this infinitely and multitudinously sensible capacity of delight in my mind, heart and body. God justifies himself in the end even when He has masked Himself as a bully and a tyrant.
(498) God is our wise and perfect Friend; because he knows when to smite as well as when to fondle, when to slay us no less than when to save and to succour.
(505) O Aristophanes of the universe, thou who watchest thy world and laughest sweetly to thyself, wilt thou not let me too see with divine eyes and share in thy world-wide laughters?
(507) The strangest of the soul’s experiences is this, that it finds, when it ceases to care for the image and threat of troubles, then the troubles themselves are nowhere to be found in one’s neighbourhood. It is then that we hear from behind those unreal clouds God laughing at us.
Thank you so much, Sri Aurobindo, for confirming the deep validity also of that aspect of the Divine and so, the validity and importance of the very same love of fun in ourselves too!
The aphorisms I have chosen to quote here were selected of course for the specific topic of this post, so in isolation like this they give only a limited view of the total picture one gets from reading all that Sri Aurobindo explained about ‘God’… who is not separated at all from what religions call His ‘creatures’, but is the One Being within All There is, within all those innumerable forms of Himself/Herself/Itself that we and everything else are: we are God playing at the Great Game of Evolution, God playing with God in All There is…! And THAT is what the Fun is all about!…