I read a beautiful book over my time offline at the end of 2017: The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.
It’s interesting to note what one can remember a month after reading such a book.
The main point I remember from the book, is no matter what question the interviewer asked, most often the answer was compassion.
This happened so many times, Abrams considered changing the name of the book to the Book of Compassion!
The other thing I remember about the book is its lack of frivolity. It didn’t avoid serious world issues. Tough questions were asked, like:
‘How can we even consider being joyous in the face of so much suffering in the world?’
The wise teachers often began by recalling their own suffering and of those near and dear to them. When you hear such stories, it’s surprising they found so much joy in their lives considering their personal experiences.
Their answers gave a clue about why they’ve chosen joy and how they’ve transformed their suffering to joy.
But joy for them doesn’t mean laughing all the time. There were tears shed during their conversations. And deep moments of both prayer and meditation.
One of the most touching moments in the book was when the Dalai Lama participated in a communion conducted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And then the Archbishop engaged in a Buddhist meditation with the Dalai Lama. They both stand firmly for interfaith dialogue, and certainly walk their talk.
A month after reading the book, I remember two key pillars.
The first one is compassion - the need to not only feel the suffering of another, but to take action to alleviate that suffering.
The other is perspective. The Dalai Lama emphasised this in particular. It’s an approach I sometimes forget.
This reminds me of another touching passage in the book. In the final section of the book, Abrams describes how The Dalai Lama listens to a young child recalling their journey from Tibet to India...they are supposed to just share the story, but they break down in tears as they share...as do many onlookers. The Dalai Lama comforts the child and shifts their perspective. He reminds them that they have come here to be educated, to learn from their teachers. They have warmth and shelter and clothing. And by studying hard, they can go back and alleviate the suffering of others with their knowledge and skills.
Just writing this summary makes me want to read the book again. To return to the private residences of the Dalai Lama, sit next to them and listen to their words of wisdom.
I’ll finish this post with their 8 pillars.
Eight Pillars of Joy
The book concluded with eight pillars of joy - qualities we are encouraged to cultivate in our lives to find deep joy, beyond the ups and downs of our emotional state.
4 Pillars of the Mind
When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see. For example, although the Dalai Lama was exiled from his own country, he’s happy to have the chance to travel the world and spread the word about compassion and kindness.
Humility connects us. Humility reminds us how we are all so dependent on each other. It reminds us of all the many factors that come into play. Humility frees us from the prison of me, to the freedom of we.
The author found both wise teachers to be just as much comedians as spiritual leaders. Some may even consider laughter and humor as indicators of spiritual development!
Acceptance is a practice of seeing the truth. If you’re feeling sad, you need to accept it. Deny the reality of your thoughts, feelings or situation is deny truth. From a place of truth, transformation can take place. From a place of denial, nothing really happens - life just keeps sending you the message until you see the reality for what it is.
4 Pillars of the Heart Forgiveness
An eye for an eye will leave the world blind.
If we choose to retaliate to those that harmed us, the cycle of harm continues forever, but if we choose to forgive and let go, we break the cycle and heal, renewing or releasing the relationship.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean what was done was right. No. Forgiveness is about the wisest way to move forward.
Every day, think as you wake up, ‘I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it.’
Following a Buddhist philosophy, you can even be grateful even for your enemies, as your most precious spiritual teachers.
All traditions carry the same message: the message of love.
Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.
Compassion is central to a joyful life for all.
It is in giving that we receive.
Generosity is hard wired into our brain to make you feel good - generosity connects.
You’ll feel much better giving a gift to someone else, than buying that gift for yourself. Don’t believe me? Try it! Bonus points if you can do it anonymously!
'Pay What You Feel' on Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day is overly commercial, and just to go out for a meal can cost so much.
So, we've decided to do the opposite - we're offering all of our products today, till Sunday, on a 'pay what you feel' model, and we'll randomly pick some winners!
In total, we're gifting £10,000 of our products and services on a 'Pay-What-You-Feel' basis.
Here's what's on offer:
1. Teach Mindfulness @ Work 6 month Program - Value - £4997
2. Advanced Teach Mindfulness and Kindfulness 6 month Program - Value - £2499
3. Our Popular Standard Teach Mindfulness 3 month Program - Value - up to £1499
4. Kindfulness 2 month program - Value £120
5. The Zen of Business 6 month Program in-person in London - Value up to £350
6. Happier World Conference in London - 2 days - Value - £100
Here's What You Need to Do
1. Choose what product you'd like
2. Email us which product you'd like, and how much you feel you can realistically give for it. It may be close to the value of the product. It may be much less. It may even be more. You decide and we really don't mind what you offer - your circumstance is unique to you and we are not here to judge you.
3. We will select one or more lucky winners in each category.
4. If you gift more than the usual value, we will gift even more and your generosity will be felt by others.
Deadline is 10pm UK time on Sunday 18th February. But the sooner you reply, the better.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to give. :)
Bonus Valentine's Day Kindfulness Special Offer
Gift yourself or your loved one some self-love with our 8-week Kindfulness Program for just £40. Use code VALENTINE40 - valid till Sunday 18th Feb 2018