The Universe Is a Laughing Matter
DA FREE JOHN: Shall we talk some more about evolution?
Some scientists today believe there is evidence that the genetic material from which human beings developed migrated to Earth from other planets. Do you think this is a possibility? Where did we come from? What are we doing here? We do not seem to have evolved directly from the ape, if at all, if we accept the latest evidence-although current scientific thinking vacillates between accepting Mans evolution from the ape and regarding Man as a special intervention into the scheme of evolution. You are all human beings-what do you think? Where did you come from?
As an ape, you would have had to do a lot of evolving to become Man, and the conventional evolutionary scale does not describe much in the interval between apes and men. Truly you cannot become Man merely by adapting as an animal. Human beings possess functions that animals do not possess, but we human beings ourselves have not yet adapted to or evolved those functions. Not only did we not create them by adaptation-they are still latent in us!
Where did these higher or latent human functions come from, then? No animal created them. No animal approximates the full development of the brain of Man. Therefore, we did not acquire the higher brain centers from the lower creatures. Certain mechanisms of the human being can be found in animals, and we can see our relationship to the genetic series of the world. But the unique element that is in Man is not the product of adaptation. Furthermore, what is truly unique about Man is even now unused by human beings. We have yet to adapt and evolve toward what is already in us!
Can you account for Man within the scheme of natural selection and the adaptation of lower creatures? You absolutely cannot. What exactly is going on, then? What is evolving as Man? If lower creatures are not evolving as Man, then something senior to the human race is trying to take birth. We have yet to adapt to the functions we have been given, the higher functions of the human brain, which are new in the scheme of life on Earth. Since the human race began, only a few remarkable individuals have awakened to these higher capabilities. Over time, however, the laws by which these functions may be developed-and which extraordinary individuals have demonstrated in their own lives-may become known to many people who can apply them toward the evolution of Man.
QUESTIONER: You often speak of our urge toward self-enclosure or death, but it must also be true that we possess an equivalent urge toward life, or this higher process you are describing. Otherwise, if we felt only our mortality, we probably would not continue to live.
DA FREE JOHN: Yes. In the deep psyche you are awake. What is more, the body is not your personal representative. The human body, your body, is the genetic representative of all the functions and capabilities of the species that is Man, not merely those qualities that you, in your limited adaptation, are willing or able to manifest at the present time. Thus, it is not only your personal awakening to the Truth that moves you bodily to live and to evolve. The genetic impulse inherent in the body is more profound than any personal strength or weakness. We are the pawns or servants of the genetic motive. Man is working through us. The “Man motive” is our controller.
Therefore, we are not controlled by what is less than we are in the scale of evolution except to the degree that we are confused by existence and recoiled from Life. When we discover the Truth of our existence, when we therefore become Life-positive, then we are obliged by that insight to adapt to what is inherent in us as Man but that we have not yet acknowledged in our personal existence. When you can laugh at the animal in yourself, when you can laugh at your present vitally obsessed state and transcend it then you can be responsible for your habits of living and for your moral, relational existence, and you can begin to adapt bodily to the Process of Life. It is then that evolution begins.
The powers of knowledge in the world today, however, are not so Life-positive. They are possessed by a negative view of life and the world. The problem is not that the priesthood of science is simply materialistic, as all ordinary men are. The problem is that this priesthood does not account for anything beyond the world as it seems to be. As a result, and despite the best work of our sciences, we still do not understand our situation as human beings. We are limited by our presumed knowledge, which has been given to us by our religions and our sciences. We naturally assume that something of the scientific dogma of evolution is true, but even so we cannot account for Man in terms of what apparently preceded him in the scale of evolution.
To account for Man we must look into the furture, to something that is more or greater than Man. Just as the wilderness of Nature is the realm in which animals adapt, so the realm of the higher conscious individual is the wilderness of Man. The higher functions of the body-mind are our wilderness. The ordinary world of survival, of the lower bodily functions of food, sex, and relationships, is the domain we should already have mastered. It is our “civilization,” the part of our existence to which we must already have brought order. The truly human epoch begins when we bring order to the scheme of our daily existence in the world. Only then are we free to wander in the wilderness of the higher functions and of our true existence.
The consideration of the higher evolutionary growth of Man rightly belongs to the tradition of esoteric religion and spirituality. However, the true consideration of Man and his relationship to the world and to God has been locked away, obscured by the mumbo-jumbo of metaphorical religious philosophy and exoteric dogma. True religious and spiritual teachings essentially describe the evolutionary and transcendental destiny of the human species. Thus, the visions and symbolic descriptions of the traditional mystics describe not God but the psycho-physiological structures of our own body-mind. We must demythologize mysticism through our own experience of the higher processes of the evolution of Man. We must understand that the principle of mystical experience is also the principle of gross bodily experience. That principle is the Radiant Life-Current that pervades and surrounds and gives Life to the body-mind and all beings, and in which the entire universe is arising, changing, floating, and disappearing.
In the midst of this consideration, however, you must realize that we are still talking only about conditions of Man, conditions of our own nervous system and brain. These higher centers seem marvelous to us, and so we locate them in the realms of the cosmos beyond Man and Earth. Hallucinogenic drugs also can give us an experience of expanded consciousness (although the content of drug experiences is far exceeded by the content of mystical experiences of the highest type). The states of consciousness produced by mystical awareness and hallucinogens seem, in either case, to be generated in a space beyond body and mind, and so we make judgments about the total universe based on these experiences. But, after all, they are developments of the brain, not of the cosmos. We are still only investigating ourselves.
What is truly marvelous is not realized within the realm of our experience. We can experience only the realm of Man. What is marvelous is not even symbolized in our consciousness. It is beyond ourselves-beyond what is latent within this nervous system, this brain, this genetic structure, beyond all that we can investigate. What is truly marvelous is not even contacted in our higher mysticism, which still contacts “me,” the structures of Man. Although mysticism contacts the higher centers of the brain, nevertheless the skull is still the foundation and signature of our sky. The brain is our vehicle, our compartment, our limit. Thus, when you have finished exceeding yourself and going higher and higher in your being, you find that you must reach beyond the body-mind, beyond knowledge, beyond the universe of matter. Once you make that transcendental gesture, you cannot know what our destiny will be. You must simply take the gamble!
That toward which we are evolving is present in us as an urge, not as a vision. Enlightenment is an urge, not an answer. It is the process by which we realize what is marvelous, what no one has ever envisioned or suggested. It has only been felt to be necessary! Somehow the entire expanse of everything is sitting in a Room somewhere. To break out of the pattern of the arising world and become identical to its transcendental Principle is to enter that Room-whatever it is. The Transcendental Domain is beyond comprehension. It has nothing to do with our memory, our repetitions, or our possible knowledge. We may acquire knowledge about the workings of the entire universe, all the galaxies and the totality of manifestation, and still not realize the marvelous. The Domain toward which we have the ultimate urge to go does not stop short of the marvelous. Thus, there is nothing to say about what is beyond the ultimate stage of the evolution of Man. You can linger in that stage or you can cross over. When you will do this is immaterial. It is a laughing matter!
DA FREE JOHN: The essence of humor is repetition. To make a joke is to mimic and repeat what is ordinary. Comics are constantly talking about what happens to everybody else and imitating what everybody else does, but they are not actually doing what everybody else does. They are repeating it. What is funny is to see what we do repeated, to be permitted to laugh about it.
What is humor? If we can discover what it is bodily, then we will have discovered the key to humor, because humor is a bodily matter. Laughter is the signal of humor, the sign of getting a joke. We tend to associate laughter with good feelings. We presume, therefore, that laughter is purely pleasurable. But I have considered the origin of laughter bodily, and I have observed that we laugh when we are tickled. Yet when we tickle somebody, we are aware that although nothing is funny, we have stimulated precisely the reaction that we bring to something that is funny. The key to humor, therefore, is to create laughter or to stimulate the reaction to being tickled.
You know very well that, although you laugh when you are tickled, being tickled is not entirely pleasurable. Laughter is your defense against that not-quite-pleasurable contact. Joking is likewise a defense against contact with the world, an escape from the realities of ordinary life. Thus, although humor or joking is a form of our play, its origin is in the pleasure-pain reaction of laughing when being tickled.
This is why conventional joking or humor is not simply funny. It is a way of dealing with pain, a repetition of things that are painful but that are presented to us to create a reaction of pleasure. That pleasurable reaction, however, is a reaction to pain. Our conventional joking or humor is a way to feel pleasure in the face of pain, but it is not real humor.
Real humor is a spiritual matter. It transcends even laughter, because it transcends the pain of existence. Real humor is not associated with pain, and, therefore, it is not in general associated with laughter or any other apparent mood. Through true humor we transcend the seriousness of events by suddenly awakening to their Divine Condition. Suddenly, for a moment, we glimpse the non-necessity of everything, the humor of everything, the non-threateningness of everything. Thus, true humor comes with Enlightenment, or the transcendence of all conditions of experience, both pleasurable and painful.
Until we are Enlightened and truly humorous, we use laughter or joking, our worldly humor, to escape from pain. We are not really happy when we are merely laughing. We are addicted to joking and laughing, just as we are addicted to orgasm. Both conventional laughter and conventional orgasm are forms of reactive defense, ways of feeling good in the midst of pain.
True or free laughter is a product of real humor, humor that is associated with the body and even with ordinary events. But the reason that an enlightened and humorous being laughs is not mere pain. It is recognition. I, for instance, am not amused merely by repetitions. This laughter arises spontaneously in the instant I transcend what I see repeated. However, one can be just as full of humor without laughing. One who is truly humorous, who transcends all the events of ordinary life in every moment, can appear to be in any mood, but his or her humor, or enjoyment of the Divine Condition, is obvious.
You must be able to find the humor, the joke, in all the events that you now take so seriously. To become capable of laughing at life-and even at the whole matter of evolution-is to be able always to awaken pleasurable feeling in yourself even though you have been born. You must be able to be full of pleasure even though you may tend to react to the events of your ordinary life.
At the present time, you see, you are very serious about many things, so serious that you laugh only at clowns. You do not see that, like the clown, you too are repetitious, that you are doing everything again. You do not do anything new-you do everything again. Everything you do is an “again.” Practically nothing is new. If something new appears in your life, it is new for only a fraction of a second, because the instant you realize it is pleasurable, you start repeating it! You rarely feel in relationship to anything because you are too busy repeating everything. That is clowning!
Therefore, you must engage your repeating of life consciously. Then you can be mocked. Then you have become a laughing matter and you are free. Then evolution and even the body are a laughing matter. Then you realize true laughter as bodily dissolution. The Spiritual Masters laughter is one of his vague attempts to blow himself to smithereens! True laughter is shattering.
Unless you transcend yourself, you repeat yourself, and repetition without enlightenment is karma, or bondage to fixed destiny. If we simply realized this moment completely and fully, there would be no bondage, but we tend to repeat this moment and hold on to it. We do not live this moment in the Infinity of Life. We live it for its own sake, and we hold on to it desperately, afraid to lose the pleasure and consolation it offers. Out of fear we repeat everything. We even repeat the things we choose not to repeat, by avoiding them. Thus, we are karma-laden, burdened by the urge to repetition. But to the Enlightened man or woman karma is a joke. You too must see that your own limited life of tendency is funny. You must become truly humorous about your life. You must transcend the repetition that is your present way of life by entering into delight and becoming a laughing matter.
Presently you are afraid to experience anything directly – simply because you are afraid, not because you truly are afraid of experiencing anything directly. You are turned away from experience. You are recoiling upon yourself. You are full of fear. You are protecting yourself. Laughter and all the other things to which you are addicted are the methods you use to protect yourself, ways of trying to trigger the emotion, the bodily sense, the clarity of feeling good under stress. You must go beyond that game of repeating pleasurable moments. You must have humor about all the things you are presently taking so seriously. The first step toward spiritualizing your existence is to become humorous about the ordinary things of life, and therefore free. Transcend the animal, therefore, and become truly human.
Laughter is the root of transfiguration, and the tickle is the original urge to God-Realization. Pain and death, which are the root stimuli of the tickle, are the origins of the motive to be free. But most people are not urgent enough in that motive. At some point they stop growing. They adapt just enough to console themselves in their fear and they do not grow any more. They do nothing for the rest of their lives except to repeat themselves. I have seen a great deal of the world, and it seems to be repeating itself. It is even beginning to repeat itself everywhere in multiples, like an image in a hall of mirrors! More and more of the same thing is happening all of the time. Have you observed this? I feel somewhat in the mood of the old monks and ascetics who left the world having finally gotten that joke. I really am possessed by the realization that the world is immovable in its karma. Paradoxically, that realization, like death, is one of the goads to real, creative life.
QUESTIONER: The possibility of saving the world is a goad to your Teaching Work?
DA FREE JOHN: Yes, and the impossibility of saving the world creates laughter. There is the urge to Enlighten every being, and then there comes the realization that it is impossible to do. That is the joke. The impossibility makes a joke of spiritual Teaching. Spiritual Teaching is a primal urge, like sex, you see, but it is bound to be laughed at. It must become a laughing matter so that the Teacher can go on to something else.
This Teaching is also a kind of joke, an expression of my sense of humor. I am a clown, don’t you see? I do everything for the sake of good humor. You are able to see the Brightness of God only through responding properly to his fool – in other words, by getting the “jokes” of the Teaching of the Adept, by transcending the world in his Company. If you do not laugh at Gods fool, then you do not see God. The way to God is through Gods fool, Gods clown, one who has already transcended the world.
Thus, I am here to make a mockery of the universe, to demonstrate that the universe is a laughing matter, so that you will transcend it. I am here to tell the ultimate jokes-all seven of them. There are seven eternal jokes, which are not revealed in words-they are not quips or one-liners, but whole pieces of existence, or stages of life. The seven stages of life are the seven original jokes. They too are the fool of God. When you transcend them by fulfilling them, then you are able to see the wonderment of God. When you have fulfilled the Teaching of Truth, then you get the joke of human existence.
Living the stages of life, though a profound and necessary gesture, is ultimately foolishness. The seven stages are stages of laughter, each of which must, in its turn, become a great laugh to you. You must be able to feel total pleasure in the face of each stage of experience before you can go on to complete the next stage. In your present level of realization, however, you have not yet laughed at any of the stages of life. You are still burdened by them, still carrying them around, still being tested by them. You are not yet laughing at Gods fool. You yourself will become Gods fool as you incarnate and laugh at each of the stages of life. Even the seventh stage of life, you will see, is a colossal lot of foolishness. The only way to move through the seventh stage is to laugh your head off. The seventh stage of life must become a laughing matter, along with all the rest of your body and all its stages of growth. You must get the seventh joke, which is the body itself, the last laugh. That joke is eternal and its Humor is infinite Bliss.