Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Laughing to/from the divine

While reading this article in The New Yorker by Raffi Khatchadourian about the Guru of Giggling, Dr. Madan Kataria, I was reminded of our conversation about the Pentacostal practice of holy laughter. (I think some of you tracked down the YouTube vids.) Khatchadourian writes that

Kataria believes that true mirthful laughter can have a liberating, transformative effect--one that momentarily erases all practical concerns, fears, needs, and even notions of time, and provides a glimpse into spiritual enlightenment. This puts him at odds with the world's major religions, where laughter is rarely celebrated, and where virtue and spiritual self-awareness are usually matters of discipline and solemnity. The Buddha found laughter unbecoming, even, at times, "an offense of wrongdoing." (60)

(Mormons have an injunction against light-mindedness and laughter in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 121. In this context, laughter is at cross-purposes with religious instruction.)

Both laughing yogis and laughing Pentacostals see laughter as a spiritual experience: One group believes that laughter is the pathway to spiritual experience (the laughter yogis) and the other sees laughter as evidence of the indwelling spirit of God. In rhetorical terms, one argues from consequence that laughter brings enlightenment; the other argues from sign (or liaison of coexistence, in Chaim Perelman's language) that laughter is evidence of the divine presence.

Either way, I challenge you to watch the delightful Dr. Kataria without laughing:

Feel enlightened?

No comments:

Post a Comment