Humour As A Diagnostic Tool for Emotional Blocks Writings/The Humour and Wisdom of Mulla Nasrudin.pdf

Humour and the Spiritual Tradition

‘Serious things cannot be understood without
humorous things, nor opposites without opposites.’

o Humour is important as a spiritual technique because it is an eminently practical rather than
theoretical tool in helping free the human mind from conditioned thinking and behaviour.

o Certain jokes and humorous tales contain both an experiential and inner nutritional content.
“The fact that a fruit tastes delicious does not mean that it cannot have food value.”

o Humour can produce a sudden switch-over from one way of looking at things to another by
breaking expectations and mental patterns. The indirect approach of humour “can slip behind
the defences of our usual logic and pierce the protective armour of conventional thought.”

o Metaphysical jokes and tales are intended to challenge the consciousness and may be viable in
several different ranges of meaning.

Jokes are structures, and in their Sufic usage they may fulfil many different
functions. Just as we may get the humour nutrient out of a joke, we can also get
several dimensions out of it on various occasions: there is no standard meaning
of a joke. Different people will see different contents in it; and pointing out some
of its possible usages will not, if we are used to this method, rob it of its efficacy.
The same person, again, may see different sides to the same joke according to his
varying states of understanding or even mood. The joke, like the non-humourous
teaching-story, thus presents us with a choice instrument of illustration and action.
How a person reacts to a joke will also tell us, and possibly him or her, what his
blocks and assumptions have been, and can help dissolve them, to everyone’s
advantage. (1)

o A sense of humour, or lack of it, is a reliable guide for distinguishing between real and false
spiritual teachers. “The way to flush people out who keep their inflexibility hidden is to test
whether they can endure humour or not.”

Traditionally it has been noted by genuine mystics that the professionals, those
who have no enlightenment but plenty of obsession, can be easily discovered
because they lack a sense of humour. Humour, here, be it noted, is not to be
assumed in those who merely giggle a lot, or those who understand only the
banana-skin variety: indeed, these two forms of behaviour are the types most
often found in pseudo-mystics.

As a shock-applier and tension-releaser and an indicator of false situations,
humour, certainly to the Sufi in traditional usage, is one of the most effective
instruments and diagnostic aids. (2)

o Humour has an enduring quality that ensures the transmission of certain ideas couched in a
humourous framework. “Humour cannot be prevented from spreading; it has a way of slipping
through the patterns of thought which are imposed upon mankind by habit and design.”


Mohandas Gandhi

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”


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