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the book of joy (Book Review Sample)


This paper should be a minimum of five full pages, maximum of seven pages, not including your Works Cited Page. Topic The Book of Joy covers a lot of ideas. However, if you read this book critically, you’ll see that a very clear argument is presented. The authors (The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams) have crafted a rather specific answer to the question: “What are the world’s greatest problems and what are the solutions?” Using detailed support from the book, summarize their answer to this two-part question. Then, argue whether or not you find their problem identification and solutions accurate and insightful. Source: you are expected to cite frequently from the original text The Book of Joy and include a Works Cited page. If you wish to cite from other sources, that is fine, but not required.


09 November 2018
The Book of Joy
The Book of Joy is a product a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu that lasted for a week when the Dalai Lama celebrated his 80th birthday, co-authored by Douglas Abrams. They discussed many issues facing the world today ranging from war, natural disasters, social injustice, poverty, among many others but their discussion didn’t focus on them entirely. The message they wanted to share to the world was that of happiness: finding joy within ourselves and spreading it to others. This paper seeks to single out what the both Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu considered as the world’s greatest problems and the solutions.
Lama and Tutu identified issues that are the cause of problems in the world all of which self-created. They include negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us, Stress and anxiety often come from too much expectation and too much ambition and a self-centered attitude (excessive self-focus is to seek greater happiness for yourself, it ends up doing exactly the opposite (Lama & Desmond, 110). Lama pointed out that people seek happiness and joyfulness from the outside, ignoring the real source of happiness, which is inside. Dalai Lama stated, “The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status” A close look at the statement, one may wonder, how can someone be responsible for their suffering? If they were, they would surely stop.
However, they insisted that we have the solutions to these problems. Lama stated, “We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people” (Lama & Desmond, 114) Tutu added that discovering happiness does not in any way exempt people from hardship and heartbreak, but people may be easily hurt but easily laugh. He admits that joy comes with suffering. Everyone talks about happiness and how elusive it is, but there is no definite definition of happiness. Dalai lame reflected, “One great question underlies our existence...What is the purpose of life? After much consideration, I believe that the purpose of life is to find happiness” (Lama & Desmond, 90).
The book offers a solution to the problems facing the world in the core message of the book. That money cannot buy happiness, and that secret to finding true happiness is to cultivate joy with oneself and find ways in which to spread that joy to others. Tutu noted that people could be in a position to change the situation, not necessarily do a great deal but start where they are and do what they can. Although in looking at the h situations people may ask whether it matters, nevertheless they should not be dissuaded to take action.
There are three valuable lessons from the core message of the book on how to deal with suffering. First, there is no life without suffering. Both leaders were of the view that suffering is only important if experienced in a certain way: while suffering, you must shift your focus away from yourself and on to others. An intense focus on one’s pain makes it grow while looking to others helps in dealing with it. Not only does assisting others to make one forget about their problems, but it also feels better because of doing good. Most often people see that others have more problems than them.
Secondly, people are not always in control of suffering, but they are in control of their response to it. According to Lama, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional” (Lama & Desmond, 120). Self-awareness valuable when dealing with suffering, as it allows people to see what they can or not control. A lot of pain is externally inflicted externally beyond peoples control such as though natural disasters and sickness. Since people cannot control the external factors, they can, however, choose how to react. Lama and Tutu agreed that suffering often leads to fear and frustration, but those are creations of the mind, not in reality. They refer self-awareness as mental immunity which helps in warding off the pain that they still feel.
The Eastern Philosophy does not advocate that pain and suffering ever go away, but instead, people shift their outlook and mainly attributing less mental energy to things that don’t matter. In doing so, people are faster at moving their mindset back to a place of happiness. Lama’s secret “One of my practices comes from an ancient Indian teacher…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” (Lama & Desmond, 150). Lama was referring to a quote from a Buddhist master in the Eighteenth century that there is no need for dejection if something can be done about a situation; there is no use of being dejected if nothing can be done about a situation.
The Eastern philosophy of happiness is hard to understand not unless practiced. Before one can embrace meditation, several attempts at it fail. And even when one starts to follow the practice, the process is slow. Lama admits that meditation takes practice. Desmond Tutu commented that “The Dalai Lama’s serenity didn’t come fully formed. It was through the practice of prayer and meditation that the gentleness, the compassion grew, his being patient and accepting—within reasonable limits” (Lama & Desmond, 180).
One can change perspective in the face of suffering through meditation. Meditation works by taking the focus off oneself and onto others to foster unity. The most important thing is to overcome the grip of one’s ego that drives much of our daily lives. Lama attributes self-centered thinking to most of the human suffering: ” When we see these things, we realize that not only do we suffer, but so do many of our human brothers and sisters. So when we look at the same event from a wider perspective, we will reduce the worrying and our own suffering” (Lama & Desmond, 171).
Thirdly, compassion and sadness are channels to let go of the anger and stress that result from suffering. Suffering, whether internal or external is often a result of the reality not matching the high expectation people had. The solution is in turning the fear into joy, or at least not letting the feeling be overwhelming. Channeling the stress and anger into compassion and sadness will produce much better feeling. Happiness is not all about making an individual happy but is also about concern for others.
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu stressed how important compassion and generosity are in efforts to find joy. But, they remind people of the need to seek justice even when they attempt to forgive their enemies and use anger as a tool to help those being harmed. Archbishop continues how people see each other, "When we see others as separate, they become a threat. When we see others as part of us, as connected, as interdependent, then there is no challenge we cannot face — together” (Lama & Desmond, 164)
Eight Pillars of Joy
The eight pillars of

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