The Book of Joy
Lasting Happiness in A Changing WorldLarge Print - 2016
Two spiritual giants. Five days. One timeless question.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships--or, as they would say, because of them--they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness's eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life's inevitable suffering?
They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.
This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.
We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy--from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.
The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.
From the critics
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“... everywhere in Dharamsala were reminders that this was a community that had been traumatized by oppression and exile. The town clings to winding hillside roads, and craft stalls hang over the edges of sheer cliffs. Like construction throughout India and so much of the developing world, building codes and security precautions were waved aside to make room for the exploding population. I wondered how these structures would fare in an earthquake, and feared that the whole city might be shaken off the back of these mountains like a leaf from a waking animal.” (p. 22-23)
“March 10, 2008 ... I could not do anything. I felt helpless. I knew that if they really carried out demonstrations, it would actually result only in more suffering, more problems. And that is exactly what happened, with the violent crackdown and the death and imprisonment of so many Tibetans who had participated in the process. Over the next few days, during my meditation, I actually visualized some of those Chinese local authorities and did one of our practices, called tonglen, literally meaning ‘giving and taking.’ I tried to take on their fear, anger, suspicion, and to give them my love, my forgiveness. Of course, this would have no physical effect on the ground. It would not change the situation. But you see, mentally, it was very, very helpful to keep a calm mind.” (p. 115)
The Dalai Lama used the terms wider perspective and larger perspective. They involve stepping back, within our own mind, to look at the bigger picture and to move on beyond our limited self-awareness and our limited self-interest. Every situation we confront in life comes from the convergence of many contributing factors. The Dalai Lama had explained, "We must look at any given situation or problem from the front and the back, from the sides, from the top and bottom, so from at least six angles. This allows us to take a more complete and holistic view of reality, and if we do, our response will be more constructive." (p. 196)
"I think it takes time to learn to be aid-back," he continued. "You know, it's not something that just comes ready-made for you. No one ought to feel annoyed with themselves. It just adds to the frustration. I mean, we are human beings, fallible human beings. As the Dalai Lama points out, there was a time… I mean, we see him serene and calm. Yet there were times when he, too, felt annoyed and perhaps there still are. It's like muscles that have to be exercised to be strong. Sometimes we get too angry with ourselves thinking we ought to be perfect from the word go. But this being on earth is a time for us to learn to be good, to learn to be more loving, to learn to be more compassionate. And you learn, not theoretically. "The Archbishop was pointing his index fingers at his head. "You learn when something happens that tests you." (pp. 91-92)
We concluded, "There is nothing wrong with faiths. The problem is the faithful."
(P. 70 Desmond Tutu)
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