Laughter is spiritual health. And laughter is very unburdening. While you laugh, you can put your mind aside very easily. For a man who cannot laugh the doors of the buddha are closed. To me, laughter is one of the greatest values. No religion has ever thought about it. They have always been insisting on seriousness, and because of their insistence the whole world is psychologically sick.
Everybody knows from his own experience that after laughter, good laughter, a belly laugh, you almost feel that you have taken an ice-cold shower; a peace, a silence, a freshness… The same is true about crying, but very few people know the secret of crying because it is more repressed than laughter.
Laughter is such a healthy exercise. Somebody is laughing — that’s perfectly good exercise, join him. Somebody is being playful — if you have time, join him.
Millions of people have tried meditation and dropped out of it because they took it very seriously. Religion has been thought to be a very serious affair — it is not. One has to understand — at least those who are with me — that religion is a playfulness, a laughter. Take it easy; then things blossom without any tension. You are not taking it easy, you are making it difficult.
Existence loves laughter. You may have observed, or not, that man is the only animal in the whole of existence who is capable of laughing. Laughter is the only distinguishing mark that you are not a buffalo, you are not a donkey; you are a human being. Laughter defines your humanity and your evolution. And the greatest laugh is at your own ridiculous things.
I would like you to accept only one prayer, and that is laughter, because when you are totally laughing you are in the present. You cannot laugh in the future and you cannot laugh in the past. All those people who have created this retarded humanity have taken away all juice, all laughter, all smiles, and dragged everybody into being inauthentic. And if you are inauthentic, insincere, you can never grow the seed that has been given to you by this great compassionate universe.
I want my people to understand that because only man is capable to laugh, that means laughter is the highest point of consciousness, the highest point of understanding, the highest point of evolution. That’s why I have started calling laughter “the prayer time.”
I want my people to laugh like a lion’s roar. Then even laughter becomes a tremendous experience, because it is intelligence at its peak.
I want to be taken playfully, not seriously — not with a long British face, but with beautiful laughter. Your laughter, your playfulness is the recognition that you have understood me. Your seriousness shows that you have misunderstood me, you have missed it — because seriousness is nothing but sickness. It is another name of sadness; it is a shadow of death. And I am all for life. If it is needed for your laughter, your dance, even to reject me, then reject me — but don’t reject the dance and the song and the life, because that is my teaching.
But laughter is in some way unique; when you laugh, you are also total in it. A laughter which is not total will be phony, a pretension, just a performance. So when you laugh, you also laugh totally. That is the only act you do totally — so you know that laughter is total. If you see me laughing, it is a natural conclusion that it is a total act, because it corresponds with your experience. You cannot laugh partially. Try, and you will fail. You can laugh only totally. That is a unique quality about laughter. That’s why I had made a meditation of it — because of its unique quality: in laughter you are total without anyone saying to you, “Be total.”
Laughter certainly is very special. Your whole body laughs. Each atom, each cell of your body laughs, participates in it. I have always been against seriousness. I have never compared them, but you can see why I am against seriousness. Seriousness can never be total. It is always partial, the very other extreme of laughter. It goes on becoming narrower and narrower and narrower. The more serious you are, the more narrow you become. The more you go towards laughter, the more wide and the more open, the more vulnerable, the more total, you become. Laughter has something religious. Seriousness is sick and irreligious.
Osho (1931-1990) was an Indian mystic and spiritual teacher that had a notable impact on Western spirituality as well as New Age thought. In 1988 he introduced the Mystic Rose Meditation, a three-week process involving voluntary simulated laughter, tears and silence. The first week involves three hours of daily laughing, non-stop and for no reason, starting with a Yahoo! The second week is for crying, also non-stop for three full hours; and the third week is for active silence. Thousands participated over the following years. It is still offered every month at the Osho International Meditation Resort (http://lou.pm/osho) in Pune, India, and at other places around the world.
When you laugh, aside from the endorphin rush, there's also a spiritual opening. You're not so tight inside yourself. That opening I've found to be a real gift, in people being able to absorb spirituality. -- Rabbi Sydney Mintz