07/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Sound of God Laughing

When the talk turns to God or consciousness and God, do you picture any of these?

Serene strolls across pristine sand by a dazzling aquamarine ocean,
Gazing awestruck at a vast indigo sky flecked with glittering stars,
Images of a cascading waterfall in a verdant forest....

When I think of reading parables, I imagine opening a tiny book with crumbling pages and entering a world inhabited by sages in forests caves, or on mountaintops. I expect images of divinity to carry me away to far off times and places, far, far away from the hassles of today's world.

The very last locale for a spiritual parable could well be stopped in traffic on an LA freeway. The very last person I'd typically entertain as the hero of a parable, is a harried modern comedian, struggling with the conflations of ego, and the deflations of inadequacy, while trying to cope with the recent passing of his elderly father. Yet it's just that hero whom Deepak Chopra gives us in his wonderful new book, Why is God Laughing?

This easy read is a like a bag full of munchies -- you just have to read a few more pages, (and a few more) until you get to the bottom (or top) of it. Chopra's hero is a second-rate comedian named Mickey Fellows who keeps his sadness, loss, and insecurity at bay by keeping his mind on auto-pilot generating a constant stream of jokes. While Descartes famously asserted, "I think, therefore, I am," at the book open, Mickey's mantra might well be, "I'm funny, therefore I am." As the book traces Mickey's inner monologue along with his inner (and outer) journey, I couldn't help but sense the desperation lurking behind the ha-ha's. His familiar brand of humor seems somehow poignant: I longed for Mickey to find freedom from defensive humor and awaken to his core. Indeed, don't we all want that for ourselves? That's where the book takes us.

On this journey, instigated from the beyond by his recently departed Dad as a farewell act of caring, Mickey is guided by one Francisco, a mysterious guy who shows up unexpectedly in all the right places. Through this contemporary parable, Chopra carries the reader right to heart of the cosmic joke -- awakening Mickey to the joy and the surprise a-ha! hidden inside every moment. It's there for to recognize and delight in -- if only (like Mickey) I can let go, trust that I'm right where I'm meant to be, and learn to see (and delight in) the joke.

Without revealing too much of how Mickey gets there, I can tell you that this delightful volume, like all parables, conveys its spiritual lessons, and unlike many, it conveys them artfully through humor, proving once again that God is most divine when he is most human. Why is God Laughing? is a rare blend of divinity and humor, something to be savored. Who said the most important lessons have to be serious?

In another great modern parable, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche wrote, "I'll never believe in a God who can't dance." Chopra has clothed the timeless truths of spirituality in modern threads, so we can recognize them as our own and sort of boogey along.

Some say God is dead, or doesn't exist at all. Some say God is vengeful and punishes our sins, others that he died for our sins. But the god of Why Is God Laughing is not doing anything to you, or for you, he is you. And when you understand this, Deepak seems to be saying, you'll laugh too.