The first question:
Ramakrishna stayed in his body through showing interest in food. Now tell me the truth – is it the jokes that keep you here?
Yes, in a way it is true. Religion has for centuries lacked many things. One of the most important of them all is laughter; religion has been too serious. Seriousness is a kind of disease: it is the cancer of the soul. It is very destructive, it is suicidal. Hence, if you don’t see religion flowering on the earth – although there are three hundred religions, millions of churches, temples, mosques, still the earth goes on missing religious consciousness – the simple reason is that seriousness has killed religion.
Seriousness tends to become sad. You cannot be serious without being sad; they are two sides of the same coin. And you can be serious and sad only if you have missed your roots in life and existence. Only the pathological people are serious; the healthy, the whole will never be serious, cannot be serious.
It was one of the most unfortunate accidents in human history that religion became associated with seriousness. That association has to be destroyed, mercilessly destroyed. Religion has to be freed from the imprisonment of seriousness. Only then will it be healthy, only then will it be able to sing and dance and rejoice. The serious religion has always been rooted in the idea that there is something wrong in life, something basically wrong in life, as if life is a punishment.
Life is a gift of God, not a punishment. And there is nothing wrong in life. If something is wrong it must be in you. You don’t know the art of living, you are incapable of moving into the depth and into the mystery of life. You must be a coward; hence you cling to the shore, to the known, to the familiar. And life always goes on moving into the unknown. Life is adventurous and you are a coward, hence you soon part company. Life goes on its way of adventure and you cling to your security. Clinging to your security you become dead, and when you become dead, life seems to be a drag, a dull affair. In fact, you have lost contact with life.
It is as if you uproot a rosebush from the earth – soon it will start dying, it will lose its greenness, its roses will wither away. Nothing is wrong with the rosebush, nothing is wrong with the earth either, only you have disconnected them. The rosebush needs nourishment, then it can bloom in thousands of flowers, it can have all the green of the world and all the red and all the gold. Man also is a rosebush. He needs his own soil, he needs roots into existence.