March 3, 2021

Book Review - The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Jactionary Book Review The Book of Joy Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu 

The Book of Joy:
Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
with Douglas Abrams

Genres: Nonfiction, Self Help, Spirituality, Philosophy, Religion, Friendship, Inspirational
Publisher: Avery (Penguin Random House)
Length: 354 pages
Published: October 18, 2016
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy. Both winners of the Nobel Prize, both great spiritual masters and moral leaders of our time, they are also known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.

From the beginning the book was envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake: their own stories and teachings about joy, the most recent findings in the science of deep happiness, and the daily practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu have been tested by great personal and national adversity, and here they share their personal stories of struggle and renewal. Now that they are both in their eighties, they especially want to spread the core message that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.

Most of all, during that landmark week in Dharamsala, they demonstrated by their own exuberance, compassion, and humor how joy can be transformed from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of life." 


“The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience.”


"'Is joy a feeling that comes and surprises us, or is it a more dependable way of being?' I asked. 'For the two of you, joy seems to be something much more enduring. Your spiritual practice hasn’t made you somber and serious. It’s made you more joyful. So how can people cultivate that sense of joy as a way of being, and not just a temporary feeling?'

The Archbishop and the Dalai Lama looked at each other and the Archbishop gestured to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama squeezed the Archbishop’s hand and began. 'Yes, it is true. Joy is something different from happiness. When I use the word happiness, in a sense I mean satisfaction. Sometimes we have a painful experience, but that experience, as you’ve said with birth, can bring great satisfaction and joyfulness.'

'Let me ask you,' the Archbishop jumped in. 'You’ve been in exile fifty-what years?'

'Fifty-six years from a country that you love more than anything else. Why are you not morose?' 'Morose?' the Dalai Lama asked, not understanding the word. As Jinpa hurried to translate morose into Tibetan, the Archbishop clarified, 'Sad.'

The Dalai Lama took the Archbishop’s hand in his, as if comforting him while reviewing these painful events. The Dalai Lama’s storied discovery as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama meant
that at the age of two, he was swept away from his rural home in the Amdo province of eastern Tibet to the one-thousand-room Potala Palace in the capital city of Lhasa. There he was raised in opulent isolation as the future spiritual and political leader of Tibet and as a godlike incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950, the Dalai Lama was thrust into politics. At the age of fifteen he found himself the ruler of six million people and facing an all-out and desperately unequal war. For nine years he tried to negotiate with Communist China for his people’s welfare, and sought political solutions as the country came to be annexed. In 1959, during an uprising that risked resulting in a massacre, the Dalai Lama decided, with a heavy heart, to go into exile. The odds of successfully escaping to India were frighteningly small, but to avoid a confrontation and a bloodbath, he left in the night dressed as a palace guard. He had to take off his recognizable glasses, and his blurred vision must have heightened his sense of fear and uncertainty as the escape party snuck by garrisons of the People’s Liberation Army. They endured sandstorms and snowstorms as they summited nineteen-thousand-foot mountain peaks during their three-week escape.

'One of my practices comes from an ancient Indian teacher,' the Dalai Lama began answering the Archbishop’s question. 'He taught that when you experience some tragic situation, think about it. If there’s no way to overcome the tragedy, then there is no use worrying too much. So I practice that.' The Dalai Lama was referring to the eighth-century Buddhist master Shantideva, who wrote, 'If something can be done about the situation, what need is there for dejection? And if nothing can be done about it, what use is there for being dejected?'

The Archbishop cackled, perhaps because it seemed almost too incredible that someone could stop worrying just because it was pointless.

'Yes, but I think people know it with their head.' He touched both index fingers to his scalp. 'You know, that it doesn’t help worrying. But they still worry.'

'Many of us have become refugees,' the Dalai Lama tried to explain, 'and there are a lot of difficulties in my own country. When I look only at that,' he said, cupping his hands into a small circle, 'then I worry.' He widened his hands, breaking the circle open. 'But when I look at the world, there are a lot of problems, even within the People’s Republic of China. For example, the Hui Muslim community in China has a lot of problems and suffering. And then outside China, there are many more problems and more suffering. When we see these things, we realize that not only do we suffer, but so do many of our human brothers and sisters. So when we look at the same event from a wider perspective, we will reduce the worrying and our own suffering.'"

Jactionary Book Review The Book of Joy Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

My Book Review:

Uplifting and inspirational.

The love and friendship between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is beautiful. I didn't know that they had this deep of a connection, and they reading about the way that they each approach life while coming from very different religious backgrounds was truly inspirational and uplifting.

It’s not surprising that all of their wisdom on how to increase joy is supported by science.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book—it was just what I needed. 


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