Published by Viking on September 20, 2016
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity. The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together 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, despite having experienced great personal and national suffering. From the beginning the book was envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake, the first being their personal stories and teachings about joy. Both the Dalai Lama and Tutu have been tested by extraordinary adversity, oppression, and conflict. The second layer consists of the exciting research into joy as well as the other qualities essential for any enduring happiness, like gratitude, humility, humour, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness. And the third encompasses practical exercises and guidance based on the Dalai Lama's and Tutu's own daily practices, which anchor their emotional and spiritual lives. Most of all, during that landmark week in Dharamsala, they demonstrated by their own exuberance, compassion, and even wise-cracking humour, how joy can be transformed from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of being."
You know those friends who fill you with laughter every time you get together, no matter how long it’s been since you last saw each other, and no matter what you discuss? This is what Douglas Abrams observed when he joined the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to record their discussions on life, faith, and philosophy:
“One of the most stunning aspects of the week was how much of it was spent laughing. At times the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop seemed to be as much a comedy duo as two venerable spiritual teachers.”
“…Moments of great levity were spliced together with moments of profundity and sanctity. So often their first response to any subject, no matter how seemingly painful, was to laugh.”
Abrams did a phenomenal job putting their conversations in a format that is enjoyable to read. The book feels personal, like you’re right there, too, listening and learning. (Abrams also helped to keep them on track, ha!)
Reading The Book of Joy was such a joy (that title is truth!). These two have been through a lot (the Dalai Lama, exile; the Archbishop, apartheid) and they openly share those experiences. These intense difficulties gave them opportunities to make happiness the core of their lives—the kind of happiness that is a deep, lasting satisfaction. The Dalai Lama and the Archbishop come from different religious traditions and philosophies, and they don’t always agree, but through their discussions you see clearly that we humans have so much more in common with each other than we sometimes assume.