Evil Fears Laughter

excerpted from PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia

Are demons and devils real? In my view, it doesn't matter whether or not they exist in an objective or literal sense. The point is that we are all plagued by split-off, unintegrated portions of our own and other people's psyches. They behave exactly as if they were diabolical entities--demons, djinns, dybbuks, and devils--working at cross-purposes to our conscious desires.

In dealing with their hassling interventions, I endorse the approach described by Paul Foster Case in his book, The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. There he suggested that mirth is the best way to beat the devil. "Laughter is prophylactic," he wrote. "It purifies subconsciousness and dissolves mental complexes. In a hymn to the sun-god Ra we read, 'Thy priests go forth at dawn, washing their hearts with laughter.' This is a prescription we may all follow to advantage."

My friend and teacher, Vimala Nostradamus, echoes Case. "The best way to neutralize the devil is to laugh at him," she says. "Satan's most effective recruiting technique is to get people to take themselves too seriously." To exemplify her argument, she once told her daughter in my presence about a foolproof way to avoid being hassled if you're a woman walking by a crew of construction workers: "Pick your nose."

The novels of Tom Robbins provide spiritual guidance about dealing with diabolical spirits, both those that originate within us and those that come from without. Here's a sample tip from his Jitterbug Perfume: "Play--more than piety, more than charity or vigilance--is what allows human beings to transcend evil."

We regret to report that further help on this matter is not available from the holy books of the world's major religions. None of their authors ever figured out that an excellent weapon against the fragmented, shadowy portions of our psyches is humor, tomfoolery, and laughter. This ignorance may be the greatest mystery in history.

But Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism aren't the only spiritual traditions that have failed to take advantage of evil's primary weakness. The esoteric spiritual paths of the West, including Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and alchemy, also suffer from an inexplicable lack of jokes and fun at the heart of their practice. Shamanism, paganism, yoga, and tantra are, for the most part, similarly bereft.

There are rare exceptions. The Sufis have cracked a few funny stories down through the ages. The Fourth Way teacher, George Gurdjieff, had a sense of humor that he used pedagogically. And 20th-century America spawned two authentically comic religions, Discordianism and the Church of the Subgenius. Unfortunately, their combined flocks are smaller than the crowds drawn by any popular evangelical preacher in one night of mean-spirited pontificating.


Here's a letter we received at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory, along with our response.

"Dear Beauty and Truth Laboratory: After long meditation on what's missing from my relationship with God, I found the answer: a sense of humor. I realized I can never truly love or honestly communicate with a Supreme Being who doesn't chuckle. Alas, there does not seem to be a single text in any religious tradition that's even slightly comical. Can you give me some hope? —In Search of a Droll Deity"

Dear In Search of: Below are a few possibly hope-inspiring passages from one of the Beauty and Truth Laboratory's unpublished holy books, God's Laughing With You, Not at You.


Chapter 26, Verses 182–188: The Plot to Debunk Pronoia

A meeting of Hell's board of directors was taking place. The devil was upset because recruitment had dropped to a new low since the pronoia meme had begun to spread. "It's intolerable," he raged. "These fucking pronoiacs are so mentally healthy it makes me want to puke. Suggestions?"

Hell's executive vice-president blurted out, "I'll go down to earth and convince thousands of pronoiacs that their friends are jealous of their happiness."

The marketing chief chimed in: "I'll go down to earth and make them feel guilty for feeling so good."

Then the head of intelligence spoke: "I'll go down to earth and inspire a bestselling New Age author to write a sappy mass market book about pronoia."


Chapter 57, Verses 112–116: How to Ask for What You Want

George prayed every day for three years to win the lottery, but never heard from God or hit the jackpot.

Finally, God woke him up in the middle of the night. "George, is that you who's been praying so hard to win the lottery?" the Supreme Being boomed.

"Yes, Lord, desperately!"

God paused for a moment, then said thoughtfully, "George, I'll tell you what. I want you to meet me halfway. Buy a ticket, OK?"


Chapter 88, Verses 15–21: Do-It-Yourself Exorcism

If you're average, you're demonically possessed not just by split-off, unintegrated portions of your own and other people's psyches, but also by 20 million ads and 200,000 televised acts of violence stored in your brain.

The good news is that as you practice the art of pronoia, you'll attract steady streams of amusing experiences that are effective at neutralizing those toxins. Every time you laugh, you'll most likely purge a nihilistic image or inane story that had been depleting your energy. A belly laugh may flush out the imprints of as many as 500 commercials.


Chapter 93, Verses 81–84: Pronoiac Homework

Upon request, the Beauty and Truth Laboratory gives homework to students of pronoia. An assignment we're fond of is to ask them to finish the sentence, "The one thing that keeps me from being myself is __________."

Many respondents fill in the blank with "my fears." Other common answers are "lack of money," "my spouse," and "my obsession with status."

Of course there are no right answers. But the above replies don't capture the spirit of pronoia as well as an exemplary offering from Ann-Marie at Getunderground.com. "The one thing that keeps me from being myself," she wrote, "is other people's reluctance to lick patent leather."


Chapter 153, Verses 11–16: How to Know God

Below you'll find three messages. One is an authentic communiqué from the Divine Wow, which I channeled while in ecstatic trance. The other two are fakes that I made up. If you're as thoroughly in tune with your inner purpose as you need to be, you won't have any trouble knowing which is the true Word of the Creator.

Message #1: "I, the Supreme Designer of Heaven and Earth, am totally pissed off at your lazy sins and lack of faith. Cut the crap and shape up."

Message #2: "I, untouchable and unknowable CEO of the Universe, couldn't care less what you do. Don't bother me."

Message #3: "I, the Universal Jokester who runs all of creation on the fuel of my sublime pleasure, am well-entertained by the stories you've been living. Thanks! I can't wait to see what you do next."

To buy PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia, the book from which the above piece is excerpted, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.