The Book of Joy is based on a week-long dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu, during which they explored the concept of joy.
They didn’t just talk about it, though; they epitomized it. In the book’s front cover photo, the two are grinning at one another. The back cover photo (shown below) is even better. There they are, two holy men, shakin’ their groove thing. The Dalai Lama is a bit out of practice maybe, but Archbishop Tutu more than makes up for that.
There is so much division in the world that occurs in the name of religion, but that was not the case here. Rather than religion dividing them, the two found a great deal of common ground.
One aspect of that shared experience is significant hardships that they have endured. Yet what’s truly remarkable is the compassion, forgiveness, and joy that permeate their lives, not so much in spite of their hardships, but more because of what they have learned from their hardships.
I liked the distinction the two made between happiness and joy. Happiness is a transient emotion, but they conceived joy as something much deeper that isn’t dependent on positive external circumstances. The Dalai Lama identified kindness and compassion as important sources of joy.
The Dalai Lama identified three simple ways to address much of the strife that’s going on in the world today:
- wider contact
Simple, but maybe not so easy at a time when willful ignorance seems all too common.
One quote from Archbishop Tutu that I found particularly powerful was:
“Resignation and cynicism are easier, more self-soothing postures that do not require the raw vulnerability and tragic risk of hope. To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass.”
The book also addressed the power of forgiveness, which is directed at the human being rather than the action. Archbishop Tutu stated that:
“Without forgiveness we remain tethered to the person that harmed us. Until we can forgive [them], that person will hold the keys to our happiness, that person will be our own jailor. When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberator.”
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu identified eight pillars of joy rooted in the heart and mind that people can practice and grow with.
- mind: perspective, humility, humour, acceptance
- heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, generosity
None of the concepts in this book are likely to be new or difficult to understand for most people. What really makes this book unique is the passion that both men bring to the subject matter. The book is uplifting and full of light. It’s also an excellent reminder of the shared humanity that connects us all.
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu also model the coming together of two different religious traditions to find harmony rather than division. At a time when the world often seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, this book offers a great deal of hope.