Why is humor so deeply appreciated? Laughter is one of the great joys of life. Joy is fundamental to who we are.
Yogananda translated the classic definition of God given by Swami Shankarananda, “Sat-chid-ananda,” as, “Ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy.” Yogananda added the concept of “new” to the ancient definition.
Yogananda explained that God became His creation, which means that all of life exists, is conscious, and has the quality of joy innately within it. This is why human beings universally seek happiness. It is our nature to be happy, and the search for happiness motivates everyone.
A master is one who has united his consciousness with Satchidananda, and so you see in the masters profound joy. Some share this joy outwardly through their personalities; others may be more serious outwardly, but great joy sparkles in their eyes and is felt in their presence.
In Yogananda's magnificent poem, “Samadhi,” he describes his experience in the highest state of consciousness, ending with the lines,
Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.
Yogananda's experience of life, his experience of the goal of all life, was filled with joy. He lived in joy always, and sought to awaken it in others. Though he could be intensely serious and deep as appropriate, he also could express the greatest joy, often in unexpected situations.
The humor in this book arose spontaneously from Yogananda's deep joy. Sometimes he used humor to express an important spiritual principle. Sometimes he used it in training the disciples, to help them learn in a way that reasoned lectures could never achieve.
Most of the humor in this book was taken from Yogananda's writings. Also included are experiences with the master that demonstrate his playful spirit. These were written by Swami Kriyananda, from his years of being trained personally by Yogananda, or from stories that were shared with him by other close disciples.
The message of this book is both playful and serious. The serious message is that joy can be found within us always. We should look for it there and share it with others.
Born in India in 1893, Paramhansa Yogananda was trained from his early years to bring India's ancient science of Self-realization to the West. In 1920 he moved to the United States to begin what was to develop into a worldwide work touching millions of lives. Americans were hungry for India's spiritual teachings, and for the liberating techniques of yoga.
In 1946 he published what has become a spiritual classic and one of the best-loved books of the twentieth century, Autobiography of a Yogi. In addition, Yogananda established headquarters for a worldwide work, wrote a number of books and study courses, gave lectures to thousands in most major cities across the United States, wrote music and poetry, and trained disciples. He was invited to the White House by Calvin Coolidge, and he initiated Mahatma Gandhi into Kriya Yoga, his most advanced meditation technique.
Yogananda's message to the West highlighted the unity of all religions, and the importance of love for God combined with scientific techniques of meditation.
Swami Kriyananda was a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, trained by the great Indian master to spread the life-transforming teachings of Kriya Yoga around the globe. He was widely considered one of the world's foremost experts on meditation, yoga, and spiritual practice, having authored more than 100 books on these subjects.
Kriyananda was the founder of Ananda Sangha, a worldwide organization committed to the dissemination of Yogananda's teachings. In 1968 he founded Ananda World Brotherhood Village, the first spiritual cooperative community based on Yogananda's vision of "world brotherhood colonies." Today Ananda includes nine spiritual communities in the U.S., Europe, and India, and more than 100 meditation groups worldwide.