Book Review: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Carlton Abrams (Five Stars)


Book Review: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Carlton Abrams

Five Stars

“The purpose of life is to find happiness. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment.” Dalai Lama

A monumental conversation between two spiritual giants of our age. This book is a four-star treatment of a five-star topic. I rounded up because I am confident readers will sort the gems from the plaster.

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.” Desmond Tutu

The reader is invited into a celebration of life by two of the wisest men in the world. They have been friends for decades despite differing world views. Both their friendship and their wisdom shows through.

“Those who say forgiveness is for the weak haven’t tried it.” Desmond Tutu

You expect this book to be full of epigrams; it doesn’t disappoint. I was writing so many, that I resolved to just read the book. Then I’d come across another exceptional idea. I filled nine pages of notebook paper. Be prepared to stop and think.

“The path to joy did not lead away from suffering and adversity but through it.”

Carlton Abrams deserves recognition for making this dialogue and book happen. Still, he intrudes in the final product, distracting from the wisdom of these two gentlemen with inane and worldly tidbits. Too much marginal, affirming detail; it disrespects the reader. The book could have been a quarter shorter, and much better, had he resisted the urge to tell us how this or that research confirms the insights of the authors.

“When you look at the same event from a wider perspective, your sense of worry and anxiety reduces, and you have greater joy.” Dalai Lama

Regrettably a distorted view of history. Man has always warred against man, and nation and against nation. This was not an aberration of the last century. In fact, the years after World War Two are the longest period free from open warfare in the history of Europe. Man is capable of good, yes; but he’s equally capable of despicable horror–often in the name of good.

“Discovering more joy does not … save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that enables rather than embitters.” Desmond Tutu

Quibbles: Education, in itself, is not the solution. Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Organized religion is part of the problem. Religious organization and practices as often separate you from transformation as facilitate it. These two men demonstrate lifelong commitments to inner transformation and outward engagement. Neither is natural; neither is easy.

“You cannot control your neighbor, but you can have some control over your thoughts and feelings. Instead of hatred and fear, you can cultivate compassion, kindness, warm heartedness toward them.” Dalai Lama

A good read for anyone with a reflective mind. Bottom line: compassion is the root of all joy.

“We’ve spoken of Nelson Mandela as an amazing icon of forgiveness, but you and you and you and you have the potential to be instruments of incredible compassion and forgiveness.” Desmond Tutu

1 thought on “Book Review: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Carlton Abrams (Five Stars)

  1. Wonderful! Thank you. 2 remarkable men. The Dalai Lama has had a remarkable life, and like Tutu, both have had reason to be bitter and angry, but they took other paths. Buddhists focus on working with secondary suffering – the suffering about the inevitable suffering of old age, illness and death. Deep suffering has resulted in deep compassion for these 2 men.

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