Sacred Sundays: The Spiritual Dimensions of Louis C.K.

Written by 

Louis C.K.Louis C.K. is doing great shit in the world of stand-up, but there's more going on than just good jokes. This man shows evidence of non-dual thinking. 

What is non-dual thinking? Fr. Richard Rohr did a lecture on the subject for an Enneagram conference, and a ridiculously simplified summary is that we usually think in dyads, in opposites. Either you're right or you're wrong. Either you're for me or against me. Either you're my friend or my enemy. But we can rise above this. We can navigate past our ego's promptings to destroy anyone perceived as a threat and find what we have in common. We can reach out.


Louis C.K. recently did an interview with NPR's Terry Gross. She played an excerpt from his sitcom Louie in which a nineteen year old cheerleader tells him she finds his material disgusting, and asks why he can't do jokes about Christian things. In the interview, he said this was inspired by emails he gets since his bit "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy" went viral among Christians. Pastors would play it before services. Parishioners would then find other clips of him online and write him wondering why he couldn't keep it clean.


His response to these inquiries wasn't what I expected from a veteran of stand-up clubs, where you hone the ability to smack down any heckle or criticism, hard, fast, hilariously and decisively. Think of how easy it would be for him to decimate that kind of comment! But here's what he said:


"There's been a lot of really simple vilification of right-wing people. It's really easy to say, 'Ah, you're Christian, you're anti-this and that, and I hate you and you should just go away.' But to me, it's more interesting to say, 'What is this person like and how do they really think?' Do I have any common ground with people like that who find me really, really offensive?"


Where did this impulse to approach a scolding conservative stranger like this come from? In a clip Br. Louis C.K. performingTrevor posted, C.K. talks about how George Carlin's example inspired him to dump the hour of shitty material he'd been coasting on for fifteen years, and come up with a new set every year - a prospect that absolutely terrified him. What would he write about?


"Okay, when you're done telling jokes about airplanes and dogs, you throw those away, what do you have left? You can only dig deeper. You start talking about your feelings, and who you are, and then you do those jokes, and then they're gone. So then you've gotta dig deeper, so that you start thinking about your fears and your nightmares and doing jokes about that, and then they're gone. And then you start going into just… weird shit, and eventually you get to your balls."


Therein lies the path to spiritual development. Dig deep. Examine your fears and nightmares. And go deeper still. Eventually you'll get to your balls. And maybe you'll unearth compassion, courageous illusion-shattering honesty and the desire to see from anyone's perspective. And some really good jokes.

Related items

Join the Discussion

Commenting Policy

Beams and Struts employs commenting guidelines that we expect all readers to bear in mind when commenting at the site. Please take a moment to read them before posting - Beams and Struts Commenting Policy

Login to post comments

Search Beams

Most Popular Discussions