Creation: The divine joke

Amma in Ettimadai

19 December 2005 — Amrita University, Coimbatore

When Amma stopped for lunch at the Coimbatore campus of Amrita University on her way to Nagapattinam, she started off by asking people to tell jokes. “Whether we smile or cry, life is still going to keep passing by, so why not smile,” Amma said.

After a few jokes were told—some bringing forth laughter, others groans—one of Amma’s American devotees stood up. “Do you want to know how to make God laugh?” she asked. “Tell Her your plans.”

Half groans, half laughs.

Amma said, “God smiles when He sees someone crying because of their identification with another person’s suffering and then reaching out to console and comfort them.”

An eight-year-old boy named Eknath then came forward and told a quite intricate joke involving an ant and an elephant getting into an accident while riding a motorcycle. Why was only the elephant hurt? “Because the ant was wearing a helmet.”

Again half groans, half laughter.

Another eight-year-old boy, Ramu, then asked Amma, “Why are you God?”

“Because you are a fool,” Amma sweetly replied. Then in order to help Ramu understand his foolishness, Amma asked him a question of her own: “Where is God?”

Ramu pointed up to the sky.

“No, inside,” Amma said. “God is inside of you.” And then pointing to the 400 or so people circled around her, “God is inside each and every one of these people here. We should serve everyone, seeing them all as embodiments of God.”

Amma then asked the boy to explain his concept of God.

“God created the world and all the people,” Ramu said.

“The world is not God’s creation,” Amma replied. “It is your creation.”

Amma’s sutram one of the highest truths shot forward with the compactness and swiftness of an arrow struck the hearts of everyone assembled. A thousand pundits can speak such a truth and it will never have the impact that comes from hearing it directly from the mouth of a Satguru, one who speaks from their direct experience.

Voluminous works like the Yoga Vasishtha and in-depth commentaries like Sri Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika have been composed in order to illumine this raw truth: the fact that the entire universe is indeed nothing but a projection of the mind. As such, Ramu stood perplexed. Then, staring up into the infinity held within Amma’s eyes, he finally—without confidence—said, “Amma is joking.”