I was sitting in a whirlpool this morning surrounded by sepia tinted hand painted images of half naked Grecian or perhaps Roman women exuding the graces. As I lay alone in the azure blue water, in a whirlpool that refused to whirl at all, I considered how very different the world was then as goddesses and nymphettes played on with their lives in eternal landscapes.
The Greeks believed that laughter was bestowed upon us by the gods and when we laugh we return them their gift. So, I thought, for that moment then laughter is what creates circles of connection between each of us which endures beyond mortal consideration.
One of the Hellenic discoveries of the 1970’s was the finding amongst the dramatic texts of Aristophanes, the famous playwright of Ancient Greece, of his comedies. Greek theatre was thought to consist only of drama and tragedy as catharsis for our demons. However his comedies show that the social need for collective cleansing through laughter was just as central to public health and sanity. We delight in the pure smile and chuckles of a baby, innocent of satire and condemnation. A baby laughs and all nearby catch the bug and start laughing too. Laughter is infectious, especially when you laugh for no apparent reason.
Such a positive response to the baby’s giggles enhances the baby’s and our feelings of well-being and delight in the world. As the child grows up it is weighed down with the tasks of being socially aware and responsible. So serious and heavy that our natural ability to laugh, to be ‘silly’ is hidden under this burden. I remember at school the ability to mock and self parody, not the innocent chuckles of a baby, however, me and my friends created a sense of bonding, a way to survive with the shared magic of laughter. It was magic in that it could not be contained, in fact it spread into performance, spreading silliness through theatre and television. At 17, unbeknownst to our future selves we were producing quality laughter and fun. Laughter became our fellowship. We laughed not because the jokes were funny but because our condition is funny.
I experienced this quality, this fellowship once again during the laughter week of Osho’s Mystic Rose meditation. Then I touched that memory deep within me of laughter as joy, as belonging, as ‘the best medicine’. My mind was still, endorphins invaded every cell in my body relaxing and easing the hold of seriousness, and like Gopala smothered in ghee ,the sound of my laughter felt like a dizzy whirlpool of sensuality that could have filled the universe.