This song is an antidote for:

  • Depression
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Self-involvement
  • Selfishness
  • Attachment to form
  • Discontentment
  • Disgust
  • Disappointment
  • Seeking happiness in things

Listen to the song (download mp3):

Bonus Track (download mp3): 

Watch the session with Satyaki:

From A Tale of Songs, by Swami Kriyananda:

Really, of course, the “laughter” in this song means happiness. (Alas for the restrictions of poetry!) We find happiness when we don’t seek it outside ourselves. It is central to our own nature. Happiness is the reflection, in man, of the bliss of the soul.

The secret of laughter lies in the laughing, not in the search for joy!
It’s a swallow winging on the wind! It’s innocence in a boy!

(Chorus: Luru luru lero, luru luru lye!
Joy will come to anyone whose heart has learned to fly!)

Joy in the singing, not in the song sung! Welcome, but never crave:
If you think that laughter lies in things, to things you’ll be but a slave!

(Chorus: Luru luru lero, luru luru lye!
Joy will come to anyone whose heart has learned to fly!

Joy in the giving, not in the gaining, grasp, and you’ll never sing:
You could win the world and still be poor; win peace, and live like a king!

(Chorus: Luru luru lero, luru luru lye!
Joy will come to anyone whose heart has learned to fly!)

Sing when the sun shines, sing when the rain falls,sing when your road seems strange.
In a tempest, seize the lightning flash, and ride the winds of change!

The song as an antidote (Satyaki’s comments):

The Secret of Laughter is perhaps the quintessential example of how Ananda Music has been described as “painless philosophy.” The song itself is light and fun; hardly anyone, I imagine, could hear the song and think of it as somehow proselytizing or threatening, except perhaps someone who wholly wants to wallow in misery! Put another way, it’s about as threatening as a little butterfly flitting lightly in a meadow—an image that often comes to mind when I hear this song.

What also works for the “painless” part is that the song is rather upbeat and the lyrical images come quickly, not giving your mind much time to think too deeply about what those lyrics are saying before hitting you with the nonsense words “luru luru lero, luru luru lye.” These words are very much what a child might sing when making up a simple, heartfelt melody,[1] and effectively put a pause on any intellectual processing you might have started! (Those words are also like dancing: just move, and don’t think about it too much.) It’s at this moment that you then hear the simple truth, “Joy will come to anyone whose heart has learned to fly!”, the effect of which is to lift the energy of the heart in the spine and direct it upward toward the spiritual eye. Thus, before you even realize what’s happened, you find yourself easily caught up in the energy and consciousness of the song, allowing your heart to fly upwards, just as the lyrics say—or, more deeply, not your heart chakra only, but the hearts or centers of each chakra in the spine, not to mention the “heart” of your own being. The beautiful harmonies of the four-part arrangement of this song emphasize these characteristics even further, to deepen the feelings of the heart and the hearts of the whole spine.

In this way, it’s easy to understand why Swami Kriyananda, in his last few years, used that word “heart” to replace what was “soul,” as in “Joy will come to anyone whose soul has learned to fly!” (which you’ll hear in older recordings). The word “soul” is somewhat abstract, and doesn’t resonate as directly with the heart chakra, which is, I think, the primary part of the spine that this song affects. The word “heart,” on the other hand, implies, like I said, the heart chakra, the hearts of all the chakras, the hearts of all your mental citizens, and also the soul. This change is a great lesson in how powerful a single word can be!

The “philosophy” part of the song, then, is communicated in the specific lyrics of each verse and where they resonate elsewhere in the spine. Generally speaking, all the verses carry the message, as Kriyananda puts it, that happiness is found when we stop looking for it outside of ourselves, and realize that it’s always been central to our nature. “Happiness,” he says, “is the reflection of the bliss of the soul.” In fact, he implied that he would’ve named this song The Secret of Happiness except that “happiness” isn’t a very poetic word as compared with “laughter.” In other words, the song is really about happiness rather than laughter, specifically, although the ability to laugh—especially at yourself and at the ridiculousness of life—is itself a key to happiness.[2]

Another message in the lyrics is that this happiness is not only to be found within ourselves, it’s to be found in the present moment rather than something that we have to somehow discover or wait for, as suggested in the phrase, “not in the search for joy,” which places fulfillment in the future. All you need to do is express that present joy, as the first lines of the verses come right out and say with present-tense verbs:

The secret of laughter lies in the laughing
Joy in the singing, not in the song sung…
Joy in the giving, not in the gaining…

These words, if your mind is even quick enough to catch and process them given the rapidity of the song, encourage a focus on the present moment: what you hear are the words “laughing,” “singing,” and “giving.” And when you get to the fourth verse—“Sing when the sun shines, sing when the rain falls, sing when the road seems strange”—you get the message to laugh, sing, and give under all circumstances, which is what opens and keeps it uplifted, rather than making it subject to the ups and downs of life. And if you can keep the heart up, then joy, as the repeated chorus says, is yours. Its this consciousness that helps overcome both attachment to forms and seeking happiness in things (delusions that we all, I suspect, struggle with at times!).

The specific words in the different verses also serve to lighten the energy of different chakras in the spine, which is to say, to gently transmute their heavier qualities, allowing the energy to flow upwards with the heart.

In the first verse we have, “It’s a swallow winging on the wind, it’s innocence in a boy.” Again, these words go by quickly and are so poetic that the mind barely has a chance to cognize them, let alone ponder their philosophical meanings, before the “Luru luru lero” of the chorus comes in. With the luxury to ponder them now, outside of the song, we can think that the flight of a swallow suggests fluidity and free movement, qualities associated with the 2nd chakra (the water element), which overcomes the inertia, solidity, and stubbornness of the 1st chakra. We can also think of the “innocence” of a boy as meaning a light, childlike heart. This image, as well as the swallow, implies simplicity in the moment—the swallow just flies and children (of any gender) just enjoy themselves, not worried about plans for the future, or details, or meaning. They know joy is here, now, not at the end of some striving. (It’s us adults, indeed, who impose that striving onto children, often too early in life.)

The innocence of childhood is also one that’s free from the outward sexual energy that we encounter in puberty and adulthood. That innocence, in other words, suggests a purified 2nd chakra. Together, then, with the flight of the swallow, this first verse lightens and releases energy in the 1st and 2nd chakras.

The second verse then works with the 3rd and 4th chakras, and even lightly touches the 5th (throat) chakra. “Joy in the singing” (where singing is an act of the voice, which is the throat chakra), “not in the song sung, welcome by never crave” directly deals with attachments and cravings, which is to say, the slavery of a misdirected heart as well as trying to control the external world (an negative aspect of the third chakra). The yogic sage Patanjali talks about the virtues of non-attachment and the non-desire for material wealth. That’s the idea of welcoming whatever comes to you while yet not craving or desiring them with the idea that acquiring those things will, as we so often mistakenly put it, “make us happy.”[3] Indeed, the song makes the consequences of that idea clear: “If you think that laughter (happiness) lies in things, to things you’ll be but a slave.”[4] As Yogananda would quip, people are all too often possessed by their very possessions!

Another message of this verse is to focus on action and the energy flow (the singing), rather than the outward results or the details (the song sung). This simple idea helps overcome the stagnant inertia of depression, which is to say, if you want to get out of a rut, sing anything with gusto! Do anything with gusto! Put our energy and enthusiasm, especially in service to others (to help get you out of self-involvement) and you’ll find yourself transformed. As Kriyananda writes in Day 3 of Secrets of Emotional Healing:

The secret of overcoming depression is useful activity, devoted selflessly to helping others.

Overcoming the idea that possessions somehow make you better leads to greater contentment, which comes up now in the third verse with the words, “Joy in the giving, not in the gaining.” The thought of giving addresses the tendency toward selfishness (the gaining) by encouraging self-expansion (the giving). As Kriyananda writes in the affirmation for generosity (in Affirmations for Self-Healing), “What I give to others I give not away, for in my greater reality they remain ever mine.” Expansiveness is a quality of the throat chakra, thus serving to uplift the heart into the peace of that higher center.

The verse then continues, “grasp and you’ll never sing.” Singing, again, is an activity of the voice in the throat, and grasping almost suggests a constricted throat, one that can’t physically sing, but also one that cannot let the energy of the spine flow upwards. To “sing,” whether physically or in the joy of the soul, one must let that energy flow. The grasping also suggests a selfish ego at the medulla, which is also softened by acts of generosity. If you grasp, then you’ll never sing, which is to say, have joy in the present moment or, simply, to be happy. This phrase, in fact, along with the use of the word “sing” in the fourth verse, that suggests “singing” in The Secret of Laughter means “being happy”—and, like laughter, is certainly more poetic!

The verse then ends with the phrase, “You could win the world and still be poor; Win peace and live like a king!” For people of great wealth and power, like kings, can yet be miserable and bereft of peace. But if you have inner peace, then you can live in contentment and be the envy of kings![5]

“Win peace and live like a king!” is also the same message as in If You’re Seeking Freedom, which in the last verse brings the energy of the heart upwards through the throat and the medulla to the spiritual eye, ending with the words, “Once your heart is free you’ll be king everywhere!” As such, The Secret of Laughter helps to overcome the qualities of envy and jealousy. Kriyananda, in fact, assigns this song also to Day 25 of Secrets of Emotional Healing:[6]

The secret of overcoming jealousy is to realize that no human being ever owns another; each stands alone before eternity. That man or woman most truly loves who is inwardly free, and who grants perfect freedom to all. Everyone must grow at his own pace, to find his rightful position in the great scheme of things.

The Secret of Laughter thus tells us that a key to happiness is contentment, rather than perpetual discontentment. We so often chase after material wealth or possessions in a search for peace, a rest from all our striving, when, in fact, we had peace to begin with in the same what that we have happiness. We just need to remember, like the innocent children of the first verse, that peace and joy are always found in the joy of the present moment!

When you make inner peace one of your highest priorities, as Kriyananda often recommended, then you can be happy al the time and under all circumstances. As it says in the last verse, “Sing,” that is, be happy, “when the sun shines, sing when the rain falls, sing when the road seems strange.” Such even-mindedness is a quality of the spiritual eye, the vision of which is to see that everything that goes on in the world—a road that is most certainly “strange” and even ridiculous if you pay any attention to the news!—has a purpose, namely, to work out the karmas of every living being on the planet as quickly as possible, thus bringing them all home to God.

With this calm vision of purposes, you’re then able, “In the tempest” or the storms of life, to “seize the lighting flash and ride the winds of change,” riding the winds and waves like a skilled surfer, even to the point of having fun with it all. And these words, too, in a subtle way suggest a focus at the spiritual eye where, indeed, you might even see “flashes” of the inner light or “lightning” and hear the accompanying thunder of AUM![7]

All in all, then, The Secret of Laughter is an antidote for any number of emotions involved with putting your happiness sometime in the future, or making it dependent on external conditions or possessions. Those emotions lead not only to discontentment, depression, and jealousy as we’ve said, but also to disappointment and the stronger emotion, disgust (or being fed up with life). But again, the answer is simple: live wholly in the present joy, letting your heart fly, like a butterfly, joyously upwards.

Footnotes

[1] I often take my son’s stuffed red-tailed hawk and have him sing melodies with his simple bird voice, not with lyrics. In this childlike space, new melodies come almost automatically. [Return]

[2] My son knows that we can easily pull him our of frustration or upset by making the situation ridiculous and getting him to laugh. He might resist it initially, but it always works within a minute or two. [Return]

[3] To redirect the idea that things can “make us happy,” Swami Kriyananda suggested using the word “delight” when, say, you receive a gift. To say, “I’m delighted,” decouples the joy or delight from the object or gift. [Return]

[4] This excerpt from Kriyananda’s The New Path illustrates this point, and was perhaps on his mind when he wrote The Secret of Laughter:

[After meeting Yogananda], Sue [Kriyananda’s cousin] and Bud [her husband] confessed they had found Master charming. “But,” Sue challenged me a little belligerently, “why do you have to call him ‘Master’?” Warming to her subject, she continued, “This is a free country! Americans aren’t slaves. And anyway, no one has a right to be the master of another human being!”

“Sue,” I remonstrated, “it isn’t our freedom we’ve given him. It’s our bondage! I’ve never known anyone so respectful of the freedoms of others as Yogananda is. We call him ‘Master’ in the sense of teacher. He is a true master of the practices in which we ourselves are struggling to excel. You might say that he is our teacher in the art of achieving true freedom.”

True freedom! How can you say that? You can vote, can’t you? You can travel anywhere you want to, can’t you? Isn’t our American way of life proof enough that you’re free already?”

Is it?” I smiled. “Think how bound people are by their attachments and desires. They want a thousand things, most of which they’ll never get, in the belief that they’ll find happiness through them. In conditioning their happiness by mere material objects, they enslave themselves! Happiness isn’t things, Sue. It’s a state of mind.”

Sue pondered my words a few minutes. “Well,” she concluded, “I still think I’ll be happier when we can afford a new sofa!”

(Poor Sue, were you happier? In the years after that, I wish I could say that I saw it in your eyes.)

[Return]

[5] The phrase reminds one of the wonderful story in Chapter 41 of Autobiography of a Yogi, where Alexander the Great, after arriving in Taxila in northern India, sends a summons to the great sannyasi, Dandamis. Though threatened with beheading, Dandamis refuses the summons and sends a scolding back to Alexander (through his messenger). “I want nothing that is Alexander’s, for I am content with what I have, while I see that he wanders with his men over sea and land for no advantage, and is never coming to an end of his wanderings.” And after many more scalding words, Dandamis concludes, “Go then and tell Alexander this: Dandamis has no need of aught that is yours, and therefore will not go to you, and if you want anything from Dandamis, come you to him.” In the end, Alexander came to visit Dandamis and eventually took another sannyasi, Kalinos, back to Macedonia with him as his guru. [Return]

[6] Kriyananda also assigned the instrumental piece, Friendship is Acting in Freedom, to the same day. That particular piece addresses the type of jealousy that seeks to control or own others. The flavor of jealousy addressed in The Secrets of Laughter is more that of envy. Put another way, allowing others to grow at their own pace is what helps you release the desire to control. To allow yourself to grow at your own pace is what releases envy. [Return]

[7] It reminds me, too, of the chant of liberation, Swami Ram Tirtha’s Song, especially the line, “I ride on the tempest, astride on the gale/My gun is the lightning my shots never fail.” [Return]