Joyful mirth and the smile-equivalent are as universal as music. There is a morontial and a spiritual equivalent of mirth and laughter. The ascendant life is about equally divided between work and play—freedom from assignment.
Celestial relaxation and superhuman humor are quite different from their human analogues, but we all actually indulge in a form of both; and they really accomplish for us, in our state, just about what ideal humor is able to do for you on Urantia. The Morontia Companions are skillful play sponsors, and they are most ably supported by the reversion directors.
You would probably best understand the work of the reversion directors if they were likened to the higher types of humorists on Urantia, though that would be an exceedingly crude and somewhat unfortunate way in which to try to convey an idea of the function of these directors of change and relaxation, these ministers of the exalted humor of the morontia and spirit realms.
In discussing spirit humor, first let me tell you what it is not. Spirit jest is never tinged with the accentuation of the misfortunes of the weak and erring. Neither is it ever blasphemous of the righteousness and glory of divinity. Our humor embraces three general levels of appreciation:
1. Reminiscent jests. Quips growing out of the memories of past episodes in one’s experience of combat, struggle, and sometimes fearfulness, and ofttimes foolish and childish anxiety. To us, this phase of humor derives from the deep-seated and abiding ability to draw upon the past for memory material with which pleasantly to flavor and otherwise lighten the heavy loads of the present.
2. Current humor. The senselessness of much that so often causes us serious concern, the joy at discovering the unimportance of much of our serious personal anxiety. We are most appreciative of this phase of humor when we are best able to discount the anxieties of the present in favor of the certainties of the future.
3. Prophetic joy. It will perhaps be difficult for mortals to envisage this phase of humor, but we do get a peculiar satisfaction out of the assurance “that all things work together for good”—for spirits and morontians as well as for mortals. This aspect of celestial humor grows out of our faith in the loving overcare of our superiors and in the divine stability of our Supreme Directors.
But the reversion directors of the realms are not concerned exclusively with depicting the high humor of the various orders of intelligent beings; they are also occupied with the leadership of diversion, spiritual recreation and morontia entertainment. And in this connection they have the hearty co-operation of the celestial artisans.
The reversion directors themselves are not a created group; they are a recruited corps embracing beings ranging from the Havona natives down through the messenger hosts of space and the ministering spirits of time to the morontia progressors from the evolutionary worlds. All are volunteers, giving themselves to the work of assisting their fellows in the achievement of thought change and mind rest, for such attitudes are most helpful in recuperating depleted energies.
When partially exhausted by the efforts of attainment, and while awaiting the reception of new energy charges, there is agreeable pleasure in living over again the enactments of other days and ages. The early experiences of the race or the order are restful to reminisce. And that is exactly why these artists are called reversion directors—they assist in reverting the memory to a former state of development or to a less experienced status of being.
All beings enjoy this sort of reversion except those who are inherent Creators, hence automatic self-rejuvenators, and certain highly specialized types of creatures, such as the power centers and the physical controllers, who are always and eternally thoroughly businesslike in all their reactions. These periodic releases from the tension of functional duty are a regular part of life on all worlds throughout the universe of universes but not on the Isle of Paradise. Beings indigenous to the central abode are incapable of depletion and are not, therefore, subject to re-energizing. And with such beings of eternal Paradise perfection there can be no such reversion to evolutionary experiences.
Most of us have come up through lower stages of existence or through progressive levels of our orders, and it is refreshing and in a measure amusing to look back upon certain episodes of our early experience. There is a restfulness in the contemplation of that which is old to one’s order, and which lingers as a memory possession of the mind. The future signifies struggle and advancement; it bespeaks work, effort, and achievement; but the past savors of things already mastered and achieved; contemplation of the past permits of relaxation and such a carefree review as to provoke spirit mirth and a morontia state of mind verging on merriment.
Even mortal humor becomes most hearty when it depicts episodes affecting those just a little beneath one’s present developmental state, or when it portrays one’s supposed superiors falling victim to the experiences which are commonly associated with supposed inferiors. You of Urantia have allowed much that is at once vulgar and unkind to become confused with your humor, but on the whole, you are to be congratulated on a comparatively keen sense of humor. Some of your races have a rich vein of it and are greatly helped in their earthly careers thereby. Apparently you received much in the way of humor from your Adamic inheritance, much more than was secured of either music or art.
All Satania, during times of play, those times when its inhabitants refreshingly resurrect the memories of a lower stage of existence, is edified by the pleasant humor of a corps of reversion directors from Urantia. The sense of celestial humor we have with us always, even when engaged in the most difficult of assignments. It helps to avoid an overdevelopment of the notion of one’s self-importance. But we do not give rein to it freely, as you might say, “have fun,” except when we are in recess from the serious assignments of our respective orders.
When we are tempted to magnify our self-importance, if we stop to contemplate the infinity of the greatness and grandeur of our Makers, our own self-glorification becomes sublimely ridiculous, even verging on the humorous. One of the functions of humor is to help all of us take ourselves less seriously. Humor is the divine antidote for exaltation of ego.
The need for the relaxation and diversion of humor is greatest in those orders of ascendant beings who are subjected to sustained stress in their upward struggles. The two extremes of life have little need for humorous diversions. Primitive men have no capacity therefor, and beings of Paradise perfection have no need thereof. The hosts of Havona are naturally a joyous and exhilarating assemblage of supremely happy personalities. On Paradise the quality of worship obviates the necessity for reversion activities. But among those who start their careers far below the goal of Paradise perfection, there is a large place for the ministry of the reversion directors.
The higher the mortal species, the greater the stress and the greater the capacity for humor as well as the necessity for it. In the spirit world the opposite is true: The higher we ascend, the less the need for the diversions of reversion experiences. But proceeding down the scale of spirit life from Paradise to the seraphic hosts, there is an increasing need for the mission of mirth and the ministry of merriment. Those beings who most need the refreshment of periodic reversion to the intellectual status of previous experiences are the higher types of the human species, the morontians, angels, and the Material Sons, together with all similar types of personality.
Humor should function as an automatic safety valve to prevent the building up of excessive pressures due to the monotony of sustained and serious self-contemplation in association with the intense struggle for developmental progress and noble achievement. Humor also functions to lessen the shock of the unexpected impact of fact or of truth, rigid unyielding fact and flexible ever-living truth. The mortal personality, never sure as to which will next be encountered, through humor swiftly grasps—sees the point and achieves insight—the unexpected nature of the situation be it fact or be it truth.
While the humor of Urantia is exceedingly crude and most inartistic, it does serve a valuable purpose both as a health insurance and as a liberator of emotional pressure, thus preventing injurious nervous tension and overserious self-contemplation. Humor and play—relaxation—are never reactions of progressive exertion; always are they the echoes of a backward glance, a reminiscence of the past. Even on Urantia and as you now are, you always find it rejuvenating when for a short time you can suspend the exertions of the newer and higher intellectual efforts and revert to the more simple engagements of your ancestors.
The principles of Urantian play life are philosophically sound and continue to apply on up through your ascending life, through the circuits of Havona to the eternal shores of Paradise. As ascendant beings you are in possession of personal memories of all former and lower existences, and without such identity memories of the past there would be no basis for the humor of the present, either mortal laughter or morontia mirth. It is this recalling of past experiences that provides the basis for present diversion and amusement. And so you will enjoy the celestial equivalents of your earthly humor all the way up through your long morontia, and then increasingly spiritual, careers. And that part of God (the Adjuster) which becomes an eternal part of the personality of an ascendant mortal contributes the overtones of divinity to the joyous expressions, even spiritual laughter, of the ascending creatures of time and space.