Thoughts from Linda:
The Book of JOY…Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu
With Douglas Abrams
I love this intimate book which is a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu-- captured over their 5-day visit in April of 2015. Archbishop Tutu traveled to Dharmsala, India, at that time to celebrate the 80’th birthday of the Dalai Lama and they both wanted to create a ‘gift’ of sorts to the world, so allowed Douglas Abrams, author, literary agent and co-writer with Desmond Tutu for years, to organize the journey and capture their conversations in this book.
I love this book too because it reminds me of my good friend and colleague, Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize recipient from Northern Ireland, who loved and was so close to both of these men. Betty, who passed away in March of 2020, spoke with these fine men monthly and the Dalai Lama opened our Refugee Center in Southern Italy in 2011. They laughed together often and influenced my life in significant ways.
My husband, Tony, and I worked to lead Betty’s global charity early in this century, and in that capacity, we often traveled with her to cities around the world where the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates would gather for inspirational and educational events, usually sponsored by The Gorbachev Foundation. During those events we had the opportunity often to be in the presence of the Dalai Lama and to witness these amazing peace builders work together for the global good.
While we worked in Bali, leading the global leadership efforts there of the Bali Institute, we had the opportunity of meeting Archbishop Tutu and enjoyed his company in a variety of settings. We later met with him in NYC to explore global opportunities to assist him, but those never materialized. We know him to be a force for good on the planet and one of the most playful and inspirational leaders of our lifetimes. As HHDL indicates in one of their conversations, they are both quite ‘mischievous.’ We know this to be true!
This book conveys both their messages to the planet as well as their amazing spirits. It is filled with ‘joy’ and also provides the foundational thinking of each of these amazing religious leaders. It provides intimate details of each of their lives and gives us a window into everything from meals (the Dalai Lama eats only 2 a day and also fasts each week) to sleeping habits (the Dalai Lama retires at 7:00 PM and arises at 3:00 AM for meditation, while Archbishop Tutu arises at 4:00 AM for prayers.) We are reminded of the love of food (rum raisin ice cream for Archbishop Tutu) and witness their sense of humor as they joke with each other often and tease.
The book is organized by days and takes us through their deepening conversations over the five days, covering “The Nature of True Joy, The Obstacles to Joy and The Eight Pillars of Joy.” By the way, these Eight Pillars are: Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion and Generosity.” I can think of no one better to speak to us in today’s world on Joy and these issues than these two members of the global “moral leaders club.”
There are 40 pages devoted to meditative practices at the end of the book which you will find to be spiritually quite useful. The photos included reflect the spirits of each of these men and will bring a smile to your face.
Both men are now suffering from ailments in their old age, with Archbishop Tutu suffering from prostate cancer to the Dalai Lama having intestinal issues. These two wise, religious leaders have had such an amazing impact on the world and still have so much to offer the world. The last chapter that walks us through what may have been their ‘final goodbye’ is both touching and joyful.
As we continue to work our way through the COVID global challenge, I can think of no finer experience than curling up with this book and exploring your own joy!