“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy,” says the Archbishop.
And so begins the book I am reading which records the conversations of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu meeting for a week in April 2015 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday – and share their wisdom on how to live with joy in the face of life’s inevitable sorrows.
The Book of Joy is co-written by Douglas Abrams who is Jewish (and secular) so there is a lightness in the midst of wisdom: A Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar . . .
This is an encouraging book. As well as a lightness, it also feels earthed in reality and offers interesting perspectives, like the idea of mental immunity.
“If your health is strong, when viruses come they will not make you sick. If your overall health is weak, even small viruses will be very dangerous for you. Similarly, if your mental health is sound, then when disturbances come, you will have some distress but quickly recover. If your mental health is not good, then small disturbances, small problems will cause you much pain and suffering. . . . One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity. . . . Like the ocean has many waves on the surface but deep down it is quite calm. This is possible if we know how to develop mental immunity,” says the Dalai Lama.
The Archbishop agrees but wants to emphasise that we need to accept ourselves as we are, emotions and all. He urges us to avoid judging ourselves too harshly but instead identify our emotions, positive and negative (calm and turbulent), as they happen, helping us understand ourselves better. “There will be times when we catch a cold, and we should not make it worse by beating up on ourselves.”
I am encouraged that two spiritual masters meet – and reflect on fragility, emotions and the natural bent to beat ourselves up! These are the things of living we can relate to – be glad, celebrate, enjoy the common human experience.
This is Mindful Monday on 26 November 2018.
Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in joy on Monday 3 December, 7.30 to 9 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham.
There is no charge for the event – just make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able. However, we do like to know numbers ahead of time so please book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you are coming bring a photo of something that gives you joy – just one photo so enjoy selecting it!