Why is humor so deeply appreciated? Laughter is one of the great joys of life. Joy is fundamental to who we are.

Yogananda translated the classic definition of God given by Swami Shankarananda, “Sat-chid-ananda,” as, “Ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy.” Yogananda added the concept of “new” to the ancient definition. Yogananda explained that God became His creation, which means that all of life exists, is conscious, and has the quality of  joy innately within it. This is why human beings universally seek happiness. It is our nature to be happy, and the search for happiness motivates everyone.

A master is one who has united his consciousness with Satchidananda, and so you see in the masters profound joy. Some share this joy outwardly through their personalities; others may be more serious outwardly, but great joy sparkles in their eyes and is felt in their presence. In Yogananda’s magnificent poem, “Samadhi,” he describes his experience in the highest state of consciousness, ending with the lines:

Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.

Yogananda’s experience of life, his experience of the goal of all life, was filled with joy. He lived in joy always, and sought to awaken it in others. Though he could be intensely serious and deep as appropriate, he also could express the greatest joy, often in unexpected situations.

The humor in this book arose spontaneously from Yogananda’s deep joy. Sometimes he used humor to express an important spiritual principle. Sometimes he used it in training the disciples, to help them learn in a way that reasoned lectures could never achieve.

Most of the humor in this book was taken from Yogananda’s writings. Also included are experiences with the master that demonstrate his playful spirit. These were written by Swami Kriyananda, from his years of being trained personally by Yogananda, or from stories that were shared with him by other close disciples.

The message of this book is both playful and serious. The serious message is that joy can be found within us always. We should look for it there and share it with others.

Paramhansa Yogananda

Paramhansa Yogananda (often spelled 'Paramahansa' Yogananda) was born on January 5, 1893 in Gorakhpur, India. He was the first yoga master of India to permanently live and teach in the West. Yogananda arrived in America in 1920, and traveled throughout the United States on what he called his 'spiritual campaigns'. His enthusiastic audiences filled the largest halls in America. Hundreds of thousands came to see the yogi from India. At some packed venues thousands were turned away nightly. A national sensation, Yogananda's lectures and books were extensively written about by the major media of the era, including Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Life. He was even invited to the White House by President Calvin Coolidge. Yogananda continued to lecture and write up to his passing in 1952.

Yogananda's initial impact was truly impressive. But his lasting impact has been even greater. Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, first published in 1946, helped launch a spiritual revolution throughout the world. His message was nonsectarian and universal. Yogananda's Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, sent him to the West with the admonition, "The West is high in material attainments, but lacking in spiritual understanding. It is God's will that you play a role in teaching mankind the value of balancing the material with an inner, spiritual life."

Yogananda brought clarity to hundreds of thousands of people regarding the ancient teachings of India - previously shrouded in the cultural assumptions and terminology of an era long past. These teachings include the path of Kriya Yoga, which Yogananda called the 'jet-airplane' route to God, consisting of ancient yoga techniques to hasten the spiritual evolution of the student.

"The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul's power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God," said Paramhansa Yogananda in the book "The Essence of Self-Realization". He further wrote that "Self- Realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God's omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing."

If you'd like to read more about Yogananda's work, click here.

Table of Contents
1.      Joy in Everything
2.      Teaching with Humor
3.      Early Years in America
4.      Making the Point with Wit
5.      Playful Imagery
6.      Training Disciples with a Twinkle in the Eye
7.      Stories with a Lesson

"It is beautifully appropriate that the profound Wisdom of Yogananda series should have a volume dedicated to his humor. Yogananda’s deep spiritual teachings were always presented with a light-heartedness firmly rooted in the joy of God. This new collection contains not only selections from his original writings, but also many stories related by his disciple Swami Kriyananda, which let us see the Master’s playful way of teaching, loving, and living.

Yogananda translated the classic definition of God given by Swami Shankarananda, Satchidananda, as "ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy." His perfect combination of wisdom and humor helps us connect to that source of Divine Joy within ourselves."

Tandava Waldon, East West Bookshop, Mountain View, CA