A Sermon by David Jones on July 18th, 2010
Before we begin our talk I would like to say a few words about the word “Om”. It is a sound we hear about often in spiritual circles these days. Sometimes we hum it, sometimes we chant it, and on many CD’s we listen to it. But do we know and understand the meaning of this very powerful and ancient word.
The word Om, literally Pranava in Sanskrit means “humming.” The mantra Aum denotes God as the Primal Sound. This sound can be heard as the sound of one’s own nerve system, and meditators and mystics hear it daily, like the sound made by an electrical transformer or a swarm of bees, or a thousand violins playing in the distance. It is a strong, inner experience, one that yogis hold with great reverence. The meditator is taught to inwardly transform this sound into the inner light which lights up ones’ thoughts, and to bask in this blissful consciousness of light. Hearing it one draws near to God Consciousness.
So as you listen to this word in its many forms I hope this explanation will be of service to you in drawing closer to the Divine.
Now moving on to today’s main topic, “God is A Fun God”.
Today’s topic is entitled “God is a Fun God.” When you think of God do you think of fun, laughter, joy? Can you imagine the Divine having a good sense of humour and fun?
For a moment think of God as the air you breathe – has air ever said to you,” Stop -your not happy so – no air for you today?” or perhaps say, “You had fun 8 years ago so no air for you today”. Or does the Divine say” You made a mistake, an error in judgement, you messed up (sinned) – so no air for you today.” Let us think of a few more examples such as:
“You haven’t suffered enough in life – so no air for you today”.
“You had great sex last night – start struggling for air”.
Has air ever said no to you in any way?
Imagine if deep down in the very core of our belief system and the root of our being we believe in a universe where God is a mean, malevolent, harmful, judgemental and vengeful God that sits in Heaven and is going to ultimately decide your eternity based on your behaviour here on Earth. Unfortunately this is the belief that many of us grew up with and how hard it is to change it after so many years.
I can almost guarantee this – if your parents did not have much fun in life, were not joyful, were not happy – that your understanding of God is that God is not a fun, happy and joyful God but rather a judgemental (probably Old Man in the sky) who watches and critiques our every thought and act. It is time my friends to realize that this perception is totally incorrect and we need to learn to free ourselves from this view of life and God.
Traditional Christians like to point out how irrational it is to have any reverence for any other religion. They look at the ancient Greeks with their gods on a mountaintop throwing lightning bolts and say, “Those ancient Greeks. They were so silly. So primitive and naive.” Not like Christianity. We have burning bushes talking to people and guys walking on water, old men out in the desert building ships out of worm wood, with no power tools and six hundred years old. Christianity… sophisticated.’
An Agnostic or someone who denies God’s existence may say “I’m neither arrogant enough to believe there is nothing out there that may be beyond my ability to comprehend that works against or even manipulates physical law – nor- and I self-centered enough to think that if one being did create everything in the entire universe ever, he’d give flying whoop what I do on Sundays. What I eat on Fridays, what kind of facial hair I have or even who I choose to have sex with”!!!
Here are a few funny questions and responses:
Q: Is it common for 50+ year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?
A: Storing memory is not the problem, retrieving it-is the problem.
Q: Where do 50+ year olds look for fashionable glasses?
A: Their foreheads.
Q: What is the most common remark made by 50+ year olds when they enter antique stores?
A: “I remember these”.
Some Background on Bodily Responses to Laughter and Fun:
Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
We know that laughter increases these healing hormones. Maybe you have read some of the research on laughter by Norman Cousins. Or, have you heard about the man in India who started “Laughter Therapy”? Actually one of our members, Gracie, teaches this method. And in some hospitals today, they have a channel where patients can watch funny television shows and this seems to increase their immune response and hasten healing times.
Dean Karanazes, writing in the April issue of OUTSIDE magazine said about a completely not spiritual activity:
A great run definitely involves suffering. I think any adventure athlete will tell you that there’s honesty in suffering. You feel more alive than when you’re just cruising along. There are moments where you have very lucid thoughts. On day four, running across the Sahara last year, i nearly passed out at mile 23 of a 28-mile stage. I was dehydrated, it was extremely hot, I had exhausted my salty foods, and i was rationing my electrolyte tablets. My ears were ringing. My head was spinning. I was seeing stars. I finally sat down in the sand and just looked around. There was no one there. And I sat there for probably 15 minutes and got in my own head and said: Don’t get ahead of yourself. Be in the moment. Don’t think about the race you have to do tomorrow. Just take one step. Do your best on the next step. There’s magic in misery. I talked to God out there. (Karnazes, 46, won the 2008 Four desert Challenge, a 621-mile stage race across the Atacama, Gobi, Sahara, and Antarctic deserts)
You still want to allow your real self to enjoy life. But you also have to face the need to meet others’ expectations of you, and therein lies a problem. What’s the right mix (or balance, if you will) of meeting:
- the wishes of your true inner self, and
- other’s expectations of you? And how do we learn to give ourselves permission to truly enjoy life, a good laugh without feeling bad about ourselves.
- How to balance fun with other life responsibilities that may not be fun.
May I share a true and personal example?
Some years ago my life’s experiences gave me a vital lesson in finding the answer.
Things were going very wrong for me. I was trying to meet expectations placed on me by a number of people who were heavily influencing my life, expectations against which the inner me was fighting a losing battle. In reality of course I was pleasing nobody, least of all myself. The effect was a gradual erosion of my self-esteem and self-confidence to a point where they became virtually non-existent.
I had allowed my natural inner self to be totally suppressed, by my outer self and by various other people who at the time seemed vital to my life’s success. They were telling me, in effect, ‘don’t do what you want to do . . . come over here and do what I want you to do’.
They say the darkest time of day is just before the dawn. Isn’t it amazing how true that is of life? A small voice in my darkest hours was calling to me, in the form of a close friend asking me to join a choir. I loved singing and they wanted me in the tenors. But I was feeling deeply sorry for myself and said no. The requests continued to come and the answer continued to be no. Finally I gave in and said yes. Perhaps, I thought, a couple of hours of rehearsal each week would take my mind off my problems for a while.
When the choir welcomed me with genuine applause, a candle flickered within me. With encouraging comments on my singing and a growing sense of belonging, the flicker became a soft, steady glow. With each rehearsal, its brightness increased. I could feel the world embracing me again. Before long, the light was shining like a beacon, once again guiding my inner thoughts, revitalizing the inner me, increasing my self esteem and rebuilding my self confidence. It didn’t stop at the end of choir rehearsals. My newfound enthusiasm was rippling through the rest of my week into everything I was thinking and doing.
These events didn’t free my passion for singing. It was my passion for singing that freed the real me that I had for too long allowed to be imprisoned by other’s expectations. Needless to say, the first decision of my true self was to dismiss these people from my life . . . and it felt great!
The passionate person I am today owes a great deal to these events and especially to that friend who insistently called to me during those dark days.
Peter Nicholls has written:
“Of course the realities of modern living force you to accept the fact that others will have expectations of you that might not sit naturally with your inner feelings – and this is not always a bad thing. There has to be a balance though. True life balance isn’t about managing your work and personal life responsibilities. Nor is it even about work and leisure. It’s actually about getting the mix right of meeting the needs of your inner self and the expectations others have of you. The mix has to be such that your true, inner self stays in charge of your big decisions in life.”
In essence, it’s about getting the right mix of ‘time for you’ and ‘time for me’.
So, I invite you today to invite the view of God as a loving and fun God into your life. Yes, there is sorrow and difficulties in this life, but as a very spiritual Swami said (Swami Lokeswarananda) “Lean to the positive… Yes there is negativity, but in general try to lean to the positive side of life. That brings more joy and happiness.