I was introduced to this book by my yoga teacher. It talks about how to keep your heart and mind in sync, stay positive, and spend less time in a negative state so that you can know true joy. It’s worth the read! Take a look!
“Is joy a feeling that comes and surprises us, or is it a more dependable way of being?” I asked. “For the two of you, joy seems to be something much more enduring. Your spiritual practice hasn’t made you somber and serious. It’s made you more joyful. So how can people cultivate that sense of joy as a way of being, and not just a temporary feeling?”
The Archbishop and the Dalai Lama looked at each other and the Archbishop gestured to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama squeezed the Archbishop’s hand and began.
“Yes, it is true. Joy is something different from happiness. When I use the word happiness, in a sense I mean satisfaction. Sometimes we have a painful experience, but that experience, as you’ve said with birth, can bring great satisfaction and joyfulness.”
“Let me ask you,” the Archbishop jumped in. “You’ve been in exile fifty-what years?”
“Fifty-six years from a country that you love more than anything else. Why are you not morose?”
“Morose?” the Dalai Lama asked, not understanding the word. As Jinpa hurried to translate morose into Tibetan, the Archbishop clarified, “Sad.”
The Dalai Lama took the Archbishop’s hand in his, as if comforting him while reviewing these painful events.
“One of my practices comes from an ancient Indian teacher,” the Dalai Lama began answering the Archbishop’s question. “He taught that when you experience some tragic situation, think about it. If there’s no way to overcome the tragedy, then there is no use worrying too much. So I practice that.” The Dalai Lama was referring to the eighth-century Buddhist master Shantideva, who wrote, “If something can be done about the situation, what need is there for dejection? And if nothing can be done about it, what use is there for being dejected?”
The Archbishop cackled, perhaps because it seemed almost too incredible that someone could stop worrying just because it was pointless.
“Yes, but I think people know it with their head.” He touched both index fingers to his scalp. “You know, that it doesn’t help worrying. But they still worry.”
I was struck by the simplicity and profundity of what the Dalai Lama was saying. This was far from “don’t worry, be happy,” as the popular Bobby McFerrin song says. This was not a denial of pain and suffering, but a shift in perspective—from oneself and toward others, from anguish to compassion—seeing that others are suffering as well. The remarkable thing about what the Dalai Lama was describing is that as we recognize others’ suffering and realize that we are not alone, our pain is lessened.
Often we hear about another’s tragedy, and it makes us feel better about our own situation. This is quite different from what the Dalai Lama was doing. He was not contrasting his situation with others, but uniting his situation with others, enlarging his identity and seeing that he and the Tibetan people were not alone in their suffering. This recognition that we are all connected—whether Tibetan Buddhists or Hui Muslims—is the birth of empathy and compassion.
Therefore, if you look from one angle, you feel, oh how bad, how sad. But if you look from another angle at that same tragedy, that same event, you see that it gives me new opportunities. So, it’s wonderful. That’s the main reason that I’m not sad and morose. There’s a Tibetan saying: ‘Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.’”
Excerpted from The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Copyright © 2016 by The Dalai Lama Trust, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams. All rights reserved.