Why Is God Laughing?

An excerpt from Deepak Chopra's newest novel Why Is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism.

Is reality what we think it is? Since we all accept the existence of the material world, how could it possibly be the illusion Francisco describes to Mickey in “Why Is God Laughing?” After all, rocks are solid, air sustains life, and the planet revolves on its axis. Yet these facts are not what the word “illusion” refers to. A mystic and a materialist will both stub their toes if they kick a rock. But a mystic believes that the rock is a projection of a deeper reality, while a materialist believes that the rock is all there is—reality doesn’t go deeper than things. To a materialist, clouds and mountains are no more than things, their beauty being beside the point. A newborn baby is a thing, too, its humanity being equally beside the point. In a world of things, there is no room for a loving intelligence known as God who presides over creation and gives it meaning.

Yet on the path to joy you discover that meaning is the very basis of life. A baby is a thing only in the most superficial sense. In reality a baby is a field of infinite potential expressing the highest intelligence in Nature. I don’t think of this as a mystical belief, but as a truth that lies deeper than the surface picture—where life looks like a stream of random physical events. Meaning is born deep within. Spiritual optimism is also an inner experience. It is based on the love, beauty, creativity, and truth that a person discovers at the level of the soul.

When you explore yourself on the inner plane, you are working with intuition. It’s a common misconception that intuition is at odds with science, but Einstein himself said that what separated him from atheists was that “they cannot hear the music of the spheres.” In truth, science and spirituality both depend upon intuition, for the greatest scientific discoveries are made through creative leaps, rather than by following a linear trail of established facts.

You use your intuition every day to confirm that you are alive, or that daisies are pretty, or that truth is better than a lie. The path to joy consists of making your intuitions deeper and more accessible. Once my intuition tells me what it is to be alive, then I can explore what my life means, where it came from, and where it’s going. Fortunately, there is no force in the universe more powerful than intuition.

On the spiritual path you come to realize certain basic principles. As these principles unfold, reality shifts. Mere belief cannot transform the events around you, but realization can. It’s the difference between believing that you are blessed and actually observing the action of grace in the world.

The principle you will find below is a powerful engine for change. As realization grows within you, there is no limit to what you may become; the only certainty is that you will be transformed.

1. The Healthiest Response to Life is Laughter

This first principle serves as an antidote to fear and sorrow by encouraging you to experience life as joyous. As we begin on the path, joy may come and go in small glimmerings. Yet in the end, laughter will dispel suffering like so much smoke and dust. Suffering is one of illusion’s most convincing aspects, but it is still unreal.

A golden rule applies here: What is true in the material world is false in God’s world, and vice versa. In this case, the material world seems to be dominated by crisis and suffering,
and therefore the sanest way to approach life is with worry, anxiety, and defensiveness. But once your consciousness shifts, you realize that life itself couldn’t exist without an underlying creativity, and that this continuous act of creation is in itself an expression of ecstasy. These qualities are the basis of your life, also.

In fact, the lens of materialism gives us the least accurate view of the world, because through it we see consciousness as merely an accidental by-product of brain chemistry, and the powers of the mind as a myth. To equate the deepest reality with inert atoms colliding with each other in the dead cold of outer space denies all that sustains life and makes it worth living: beauty, truth, art, love, morality, community, discovery, curiosity, inner growth, and higher consciousness.

What do all these qualities have in common? They depend on intuition. There is no objective proof that love is beautiful, or that the truth can set you free. Rather, you must come to these realizations through your own inner experience. On the spiritual path everything depends on a shift in consciousness; nothing depends on atoms colliding.

What we have, then, is two opposing worldviews contending for your allegiance. Is it better to be spiritual or materialistic? Is God a mere add-on to physical existence, or at the very root of existence? This isn’t an easy choice to make, because the evidence is seriously out of balance. Most of us have extensive personal knowledge of the material world, but scant personal knowledge of God. God has a lot of proving to do. He must prove that he’s present and dependable, the same way a rock or a tree is. If we want to claim that God sustains life, he must sustain it as viably as air, water, and food do. In other words, to realize God is no small thing. It may take a lifetime— if you’re lucky.

To begin this journey, commit yourself to the possibility that everything you see around you is far less real than God. You want to see the truth “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” as Jesus says. This is actually a commitment to joy. When you feel momentary happiness, or you want to burst out laughing, or you smile for no apparent reason, you are glimpsing eternal reality. For a fleeting moment the curtain has parted so you can experience something beyond the illusion. In time these moments of joy will begin to knit together. Instead of the exception, they will become the norm. There is no better way to know that you are growing in God-realization.

Why Is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism by Deepak Chopra

From "Why Is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism" by Deepak Chopra Copyright © 2008 Harmony. Republished with permission.

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