I’m the “Gleeful Guru” … or so I’ve been told for so long, that I have begun to believe it myself. In the midst of the deepest philosophical discussions on the deepest matters, such as the meaning of life, where the soul goes ( if it goes anywhere at all) after death, whether quantum theory really does explain the concept of a common consciousness or if the sound of “OM” when intoned correctly over a flat surface dusted with iron filings can actually create the Shri Yantra … topics like this … my mind will wander off and find some humor somewhere to either derail my thoughts entirely or send them careening wildly off in another direction.
I have occasionally been distressed by my apparent lack of solemnity in public, particularly since I am very serious about these matters. Lately with all this bavarcation about “adult attention deficit disorder”, I am somewhat mollified by the notion that I may merely have a disease which is now currently fashionable and I needn’t distress myself unduly. Which is a relief.
The fact is, I find the world very funny. I find human foibles endearing. I find pomposity so ridiculous that it amuses me. And when a situation is particularly unpleasant, I keep hearing my mother’s voice saying,” Oh but this will make such a good story …” And that sets me off.
But in the past few years, I’ve begun to sense that God … or Allah, Yahweh, Brahma, Jehovah or as I prefer ( so as not to accidentally skip any Divine aspect) the “Universe” … is indeed a sublime prankster. And as I’ve become more and more aware of apparent “coincidences”, I have found a Creator who also embraces humor and tremendous joy. This was an overwhelming discovery for me.
And I should have found it much much sooner. Because Universe was tugging at me to get my attention. For thirty years!
There was the Maharishi Yogi in Amritsar. I sat at his feet with a small group of ladies and received my “Mantra” directly from his lips into my ear. Why didn’t I notice his soft giggle running counterpoint with every word. The warmth in his eyes … the mischief? How did I miss it?
And the Dalai Lama. Oh I loved his explanation of how he dismantled a clock to see how it worked and the bemused expression on his face as he admitted that he could never get it back together again. He sat there with the cogs and gears on his table and waggled his head ruefully over his helplessness. But there was a gentle smile on his lips.
Swami Yogendra-ji sitting serenely with an array of students awaiting his instructions on the next asana . His ashram lay directly under the old Santa Cruz airport in Bombay. As the jets hurtled upwards or thundered down to land, the entire building shook as if in the throes of a bomb attack. And the old Swami would throw up his hands and laugh and exclaim that if we could do our exercises with this distraction, we’d really know the positions correctly. A frown never crossed his face and if a particularly loud plane rattled our bones, he’d chortle as we cringed.
It was all around me. The teachers or gurus … the ones who truly connected with us and with that Universe … all contained a reservoir of laughter. It was there in their eyes and bubbling just beneath the surface. The steely grimness of the preachers, pontificators and prosetylizers I had seen in my early years was nowhere to be found.
And then in 1998 “The Art of Happiness” was published. It is a handbook of lessons for living by the Dalai Lama which have been gleaned from lectures and interviews by Dr. Howard Cutler. The first chapter opens with this wonderful quote by the Dalai Lama.
“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear.”
And I believe that the Dalai Lama is absolutely correct. When we accept this and jettison all the grimness and artificial “goodness” foisted upon us by religious leaders, we will see something else. That this “happiness” is indeed dependent not upon wealth or power or any of the things people mistakenly strive towards. It is part and parcel of how we feel towards each other. The truest happiness is not obedience to a straight and narrow path of required actions. It is finding joy in the act of giving and sharing.
This feeling cannot be dictated. It comes as naturally as breathing when one truly connects with other people. As a teacher … as a mother … as a lover. It comes when you pet a purring cat. It comes when a plant you’ve watered and tended suddenly one day offers you a flower. Above all it comes when in the deep quiet of your heart, you connect to Universe … and listen. It is all around us.
So here on this modest blog, I will share. And connect. And I know this will give me great happiness. Even as I write these words, I am happy.
The Gleeful Guru