Humour relieves boredom, eases tension and enlivens the atmosphere. Laughing at oneself is a good way to keep one's ego in check. Yet `serious' spiritual seekers tend to think that humour and spirituality are poles apart. This is far from the truth.
Evolved masters have a sense of humour, and they often use humour to drive home a point. Gurus like Kanchi Paramacharya, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Chinmaynanda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati sprinkled their talks liberally with humour.
Swami Chinmayananda was once scouting for a suitable venue in Chennai to hold his Geeta Gyana Yagna. Most temples, under the dominant influence of Brahmins, were reluctant to help out. Finally, one of his disciples rushed to him with the news that a Muslim was ready to make available his empty bungalow for the purpose. "But there is a problem," said the disciple, "the house is believed to be haunted." On hearing this, the Swami quipped: "What a wonderful opportunity! I've never seen a ghost in my life!"
Every morning, Ramana Maharshi would walk up the Arunachala hill. Once a stranger spotted him all alone, and wishing to have darshan, he walked faster and managed to overtake the Maharshi and stood in front of him, blocking his way. With folded palms he said " Swamiji, this is a great day for me. You have blessed me with your darshan." The Maharshi responded: "This is really funny. What darshan you're talking about? It is you who have come before me and given me your darshan."
On another occasion a group of American devotees who were seated at a distance from Maharshi because of the crowd, asked him whether they could move forward so that Maharshi's grace will be upon them. Maharshi replied that he has no objection to their moving forward but his grace was always there for everyone irrespective of proximity. The group, nonetheless, pushed forward and almost came near him. After some time the devotees requested Maharshi to place his palms on their head so that they can receive the grace in full measure. An amused Maharshi said: "Next you might ask me to sign a bond and take me to court if you imagine that the grace has not worked!' The entire gathering burst into laughter.
While delivering a discourse on the Gita Swami Dayananda Saraswati narrated the following story: There were three terminally ill patients and the doctor asked them to express their last wish so that he could arrange to fulfill them. The first patient said that he would like to meet the priest and confess. The second said that he would like to meet his entire family. The doctor took care of the requests. He turned to the third patient who muttered: "I'd like to see another doctor."
A scholar approached Kanchi Paramacharya and boasted that he was an expert on the Gita. The seer asked him if he could spare some time to hold a 10-day discourse at the local temple. The scholar assented. On the first day 50 people were came to hear him and the attendance dwindled on subsequent days. The scholar said to Paramacharya and said: "What sort of a town is this? No one seems to be interested in the Gita. On first day there was a crowd of 50, second day 25 and on the third day there were only two persons to listen to me!'
With a twinkle in his eye the seer remarked: "Why fret? When Krishna spoke the Gita there was only one person to listen to him!"