The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) urges us to be engaged in this world, but with a detached attitude and Akal (ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ, keen understanding, Wisdom, discerning intelligence…).
To be detached or Selfless does not mean running away from life, family, society, duties, responsibilities, or being less sensitive or loving, etc. A truly detached one does not neglect any of this; but rather selflessly loves and serves the Divine in them and expands that love and service to all other beings without any sense of bondage or emotional attachment.
After developing a detached attitude through the Divine Knowledge (Wisdom or Aatam Giaan of the Gurbani…), the Gurbani tells us that even if one lives amidst the worldly activity, he will be unattached from it and thus untainted by it, just as the lotus flower remains untainted by the slimy scum it grows in.
- ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: While laughing, playing, dressing and eating, become liberated (sggs 522).
- ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥: Remain in the midst of all, and yet detached from all (sggs 296).
- ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥: Emancipation (ਉੱਚੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਅਵਸਥਾ) is obtained in the midst of children and spouses (i.e., in the midst of family). (sggs 661).
- ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Says Nanak by the Gur-grace (Grace of the Gur-Giaan, Wisdom…), who are connected with one-pointed consciousness (singular mind, ਇਕ ਮਨ ਇਕ ਚਿੱਤ ਹੋਕੇ) they realize (Him) in the midst of Maya (sggs 921).
- ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: As the lotus flower floats unaffected in the water, so does one must remain detached in his own household (sggs 949).
Material wealthiness or nobleness is not a sign of happiness. Rather, it’s a state of the mind which — according to the Gurbani — comes with applying the Divine Virtues, the Giaan or Wisdom to the daily life.
- ਵਣਜਾਰਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਵਣਜੁ ਕਰਿ ਲੈ ਲਾਹਾ ਮਨ ਹਸੁ ॥੨॥: Deal with the dealers (of the Naam: Wisdom, Virtues…), the resulting profit will be laughter (Joy, Happiness, rejoicing) in your mind. ||2|| (sggs 595).
- ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਦੂਖ ਨਾਸੇ ਰਹਸੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਮਨਿ ਘਣਾ ॥: Living a life of Divine Virtues and Wisdom, sorrows (distress, unhappiness, afflictions…) are dispelled and the mind gets filled with tremendous Joy. (sggs 778).
Hence, only a true spiritual Being can laugh in life. Why? Because, being a Brahm-Giaanee (the man of Wisdom…), only he knows the ridiculousness of this world!
The Brahm-Giaanee is worry-free. As such, he can afford to laugh!
- ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਹੋਇ ਅਚਿੰਤ ॥: The Brahm Giaanee is worry-free (sggs 273).
- ਅਚਿੰਤ ਸੋਇ ਜਾਗਨੁ ਉਠਿ ਬੈਸਨੁ ਅਚਿੰਤ ਹਸਤ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥: (One who is absorbed in the Naam) worry-free (he) sleeps, wakes, rises up and sits down; (and worry-free he) laughs detached (sggs 1217).
According to the Gurbani, a Gurmukh (Bhagat, Daas, Jan…) is such person. Being worry-free, there is everlasting Joy (bliss, peace, happiness…) in his Heart. Laughter is natural to him.
- ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥: There is everlasting Joy in the Heart of the Brahm Giaanee (sggs 273).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਤਾ ਸਦਾ ਵਿਗਾਸੁ ॥: O Nanak! Bhagat are forever in bliss (sggs 2).
How does it all become possible for a Brahm Giaanee? The Gurbani tells us that a Brahm Giaanee, for example, is stabilized in Sahaj Avasthaa (Natural State of Being, Giaan Avasthaa…). The world to him is nothing but a show, glittering but ephemeral, etc. He enjoys it as it happens; without attachment. Since he has transcended Maya, he is worry-free, the Whole (Saabat).
Free of the body-consciousness, the Giaaneee rests on his “Jot Saroop” (his Mool, Source, Jot…); he ever remains established in the discerning intellect (Viveka-Budhi) of the Gurbani; he sees the Aatmaan alone in a scavenger and a king, etc.
When the mind is so Pure, or when the “filth” of Maya is gone from the mind, or when the dream has ended, then the one will start laughing, never to lose his sense of humor again. To the contrary, the Gurbani tells us that those afflicted with worry cannot find happiness (Sukh) even in their dreams!
- ਸੁਪਨੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਨੀ ਬਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਪਰਜਾਲੇ ॥੩॥: Supanai sukhu… (sggs 30).
A Brahm Giaanee is worry-free (“Achint-ਅਚਿੰਤ“). He understands the ridiculousness of this worldly game. To him, this worldly show (Maya) is just a “Tamaasaa” – entertainment, spectacle, show…!
- ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਅੜਾ ਵਡਭਾਗੀਈ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੋਵਿੰਦਾ ਨਿਤ ਲੈ ਲਾਹਾ ਮਨਿ ਹਸੁ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥: O my Gobind! By great good fortune, those who have realized Hari (Mool), earning (spiritual-) profit continually, laugh (Joy, ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ) in the mind. ||3|| (sggs 173).
- ਸਹਜਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਸਹਜੇ ਹੀ ਹਸਨਾ ॥: (Who is blessed with the Divine Mercy and Grace) in Sahaj (he) remains detached; in Sahaj (he) laughs (sggs 236).
A Brahm Giaanee is a detached observer just as air: Air exists in space, but, since it is not attached to space, it is free from spatial limitations. The mind attached to Maya is tortured by the memory of the past and worries of the future. But the Brahm Giaanee is free from past-memory and future-anticipation.
- ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ॥ ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲ ਅਲੇਪ ॥: The Brahm Giaanee is always Pure (untainted by Maya…), as the lotus in the water remains untouched (sggs 272).
However, to the contrary, the popular picture of a spiritual or religious person is that he is a serious looking; grim-faced being with a white flowing beard; always busy correcting others; guiding people towards spiritual realization; and that he has little time and less inclination to laugh…
If you see a person claiming himself to be a spiritual or religious who has no sense of humor, you can be certain that he has not come “Home” yet! That is, he is just pretending (Paakhand) to be a spiritual or religious person. But in reality, his mind is very much in love with Maya!
The true spiritual or religious person, in fact, not only laughs but also makes others laugh, possibly at his own expense! Because of his Divine Wisdom, he treats both suffering and joy with indifference. He thinks they are part of life and have to be accepted. This is abiding in the Divine Hukam. In other words, the Gurmukh’s laughing is in Bhagti and his crying is also in Bhagti (i.e., in the Divine Wisdom).
- ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਣਿਆ ॥: True is the Divine Hukam, and it is known to the Gurmukh (sggs 144).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਸੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰੋਵੈ ॥ ਜਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰੇ ਸਾਈ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ॥: Becoming the Gurmukh (one) laughs, and becoming the Gurmukh (he) weeps (spiritual longing). (The gist is) Becoming the Gurmukh, whatever (he) does, is the (real) Bhagti (sggs 1422).
The wall that separates us from our Mool is mind. The Gurbani teaches us to pull this wall down through the Shabad-Vichaar. The more we understand the Shabad, the more we start laughing!
- ਕਲਿ ਕਲੇਸ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੇ ॥: (Mental) strife and distress are prevented through the Gur-Shabad (sggs 191).
- ਮਹਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Reflecting the Gur-Shabad, Great Joy (is experienced…). (sggs 370).