Swami Yoga Chinmaya, let me tell you one anecdote:

There was a young man in a small town whose nose had been cut because he had done something very wrong. People used to make fun of his cut nose and he was naturally humiliated by these insults. Everyone treated him with contempt. He pondered over the situation and soon found a way to make people honor and respect him.

He went to another village, put on the cloth of a sadhu, obtained other accessories of a sadhu, and sat in “meditation” under a tree. Men and women gathered around him. At last he opened his eyes and the people asked him who he was, and what he could do for them.

“I can do a lot for you,” he replied. “I can show you God if only you agree to cut your nose – I did the same and I can see God very clearly, everywhere. Only God is.” Three people in the crowd agreed to have their noses cut….

You can always find people more stupid than yourself – they become your followers.

… He took them to a tree some distance away, cut their noses, applied some medicine to stop the bleeding, and whispered into their ears, “Look, now there is no point in saying to them that you have not seen God. They will laugh at you and they will insult you and you will become a laughingstock of the whole village. So listen, you must now go and tell others that as soon as your nose was cut, you began seeing God.”

They were so filled with shame at their folly that they accepted the suggestion and went to the crowd and said most enthusiastically, “Of course, we can see God – God is everywhere.”

And so everyone in the town got his nose cut and achieved “God-realization.”

You can find many sadhus in India: in some way or other their nose has been cut. When I say “in the bad company of sadhus and yogis” I mean these people. When I say their nose has been cut, I mean they have denied some part of their being. They have not accepted their whole being – their nose has been cut. Somebody has denied his sex, somebody has denied his anger, somebody has denied his greed – somebody something else. But the denied part takes revenge, and these people would like to cut your noses also.

When I say “in the bad company of sadhus and yogis” I mean people who have not understood anything but have tried many things and have really crippled themselves in many ways. If you remain with them, you will become crippled.

Chinmaya has become crippled. When I look at him, I can feel where he has become crippled.

And once he understands it, he can drop it immediately, there is no problem. The nose can grow again. It is not a problem – it is not something that you can really cut. It can grow again, once he understands.

For example, he has lost the capacity for humor. He cannot laugh. Even if he laughs – he tries hard – you can see his face is false. He is very sincere, but there is no need to be serious. Sincerity is one thing – it is honesty. Seriousness is disease. Never mistake seriousness for sincerity. You can become a long face; that is not going to help. In fact, if you become completely humorless, your life will become dry. It will lose juice. Humor is like juice: it gives you a liquidity, a flow.

But in India sadhus are serious. They have to be serious, they cannot laugh, because if they laugh people will think they are also ordinary – just like other people they are laughing. How Call a sadhu laugh? He has to remain something extraordinary. That’s an ego trip.

I tell you to be just ordinary, Because to try to be extraordinary is a very ordinary thing – everybody wants that. And just to be ordinary, accept it, is very extraordinary because nobody wants it. I would like you to be just ordinary, so much so that nobody recognizes you as somebody in particular, so much so that you can be lost in the crowd. You will have a total freedom of being; otherwise you have to continuously hold yourself up. Then you are continuously on display – and that becomes a tension, that creates seriousness, that becomes a heavy burden.

There is no need to be continuously in the show window. You can relax, you can laugh.

I allow you everything that is human. All that is human is yours. Laugh like human beings. Cry, weep, like human beings. Be ordinary.

If you remain ordinary the ego will not arise. The ego arises with the idea of the extraordinary – so whatsoever people are doing, you are not meant to do it. If they walk on their feet, you are meant to stand on your head. Then they will come and worship you; they will say, “You are so extraordinary.” But you are simply being foolish. Don’t be bothered with their praise, because once you become addicted to their praise, you will be caught – then you will remain standing on your head for your whole life. You will lose all the beauty of movement, and of course you cannot dance on your head. Have you ever seen any yogi? At the most you can just stand dead, doing shirshasana, the headstand.

When I say “bad company” I mean you have learned ego tricks from people who are deep in their egos. Avoid and escape from anybody who is on any ego trip because the possibility is he will give you some infection or other.

And people learn to do things by imitation. I have heard about one:

A very well-travelled executive returned from his trip to Italy and called a friend in New York to meet him for lunch.

“Did you do anything exciting over there, while you were in Italy?” the friend asked.

“Oh, you know the old saying,” the executive, the American, shrugged. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

“Well, exactly what did you do?” the friend persisted.

“What else?” the businessman replied. “I seduced an American school teacher.”

Now to go to Italy from America to seduce an American school teacher – but that’s what Italians are doing, and “do in Rome as the Romans do.”

When I say “the bad company” I mean that the mind is imitative. Mind is unconsciously imitative.

You will start learning tricks, and once you have learned them it will be difficult to drop them – and more so if those tricks have a great investment.

If people come and appreciate you, if people start respecting your nonlaughing, nonhumorous face and they think that you are very, very controlled, disciplined, and they come and touch your feet; it will be very difficult now for you to drop your habit of seriousness – because you will be enjoying it.

Now you have invested in your disease.

Drop it. Your life has to be lived from the within, not from the without. Don’t be bothered about what people say – empty praise. Just look at what you are! If you are enjoying it, delighting in your being, if you have a dancing soul inside – enough! Then if everybody condemns you, accept that. But never compromise with your inner delight, because ultimately that is going to decide who you are.

What people say is irrelevant. Who you are is relevant. Always go in and look at what you are doing to yourself.

If you are happy then there is no question. If you feel that you are happy with your seriousness, then too there is no question; then you can be happy that way, then it is your choice. But I have never seen a man who is happy and serious. He will be joyous, he will be celebrating, he will be enjoying and sharing, and he will be laughing.

Laughter is so spiritual, nothing like it. Have you seen it? When you laugh deeply, all tensions disappear. Have you watched it? When you laugh deeply, suddenly, as if you have come to an open sky, the walls disappear around you. If you can laugh you can always relax.

In Zen monasteries the monks are taught that the first thing to do in the morning is to laugh, and begin the day with laughter. Ridiculous, because for no reason – just getting out of the bed the first thing to be done is to laugh. In the beginning it looks very difficult because there is nothing to laugh at.

But it is a meditation, and by and by one gets in tune with it and one comes to know that there is no reason to laugh. Laughter is such a great exercise in it-self, why wait for any reason? And it relaxes the whole day.

Let me tell you in terms of sun and moon. The sun person is serious; the moon person is non serious. The sun person cannot laugh, it is difficult. The moon person can laugh easily, naturally, spontaneously. To a moon person laughter arises at every situation; he remains laughing. He does not wait for any excuse. But the sun person is very close in. It is very difficult – even if you tell him a joke. He will look and listen to the joke as if you are giving him a mathematical problem.

That’s why Germans cannot understand jokes. There was one joke, Priya told Haridas – and Haridas has not got it yet!

One man entered a restaurant and he asked for coffee.

And the waiter said, “How do you like your coffee?” The man said, “I like my coffee just as I like my women – hot.”

The waiter said, “Black or white?”

It is difficult if you start thinking about it; otherwise it is simple. What can be more simple? But once you start thinking about it, if you are serious, as if you are reading the Vedas, then you miss it.

Avoid all serious company; avoid people who are trying to become somebody. Get more and more in tune with people who are simply living their life, not trying to become anybody, who are simply being as they are. Move to them, they are the real spiritual people in the world. The religious leaders are not the real spiritual people in the world – they are politicians. They should have been in politics.

They have corrupted religion very badly. They have made religion so serious that churches look more like hospitals or cemeteries. The jubilation, the enjoyment, is completely lost. You cannot dance in a church; you cannot laugh in a church. The laughter has gone out of churches – but remember, the day laughter goes out of a church, God also goes out of it.

Let me tell you one very famous story:

Sam Burns, a Southern Negro, was refused entrance in a “white” church. The sexton told him to go to his own church and pray and he will feel much better.

The next Sunday he was back again. “Don’t get upset,” he said to the sexton. “I am not forcing my way in. I just came to tell you that I took your advice and it came out just fine. I prayed to God and he told me: ‘Don’t feel bad about it, Sam. I have been trying to get into that church for years myself and I have not made it yet!’”

Once a church is Christian, a temple is Hindu, a mosque is Mohammedan, God is not to be found there – things have become serious, politics has entered, laughter has gone out.

Let laughter be your temple, and you will feel in deep contact with the divine.


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