I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face as I close the last chapter of this book. Seriously guys, I can't tell you how amazing this book is! Author Douglas Abrams sits down with these two great spiritual leaders and over the course of a week he interviews them about life, love, happiness, sorrows... and JOY. They talk about the obstacles to finding true joy. They also outline the eight pillars of joy-- four pillars of the mind and four pillars of the heart. You get pulled into sweet, intimate moments between these two friends who both are so truly grateful to get a whole week in each other's company. A rare and possibly last opportunity for them to sit side by side, laughing, loving and sharing wisdom. Wisdom hard-earned by lives full of oppression and injustice.
I'll admit, I didn't know much about either of these great men before reading this book. I had no idea the hardships they both had gone through in their lives, and continue to deal with on many levels. The Dalai Lama still lives in exile. They both have limited choices in how they live their lives, where they go and who they can be with.
"Their joy is clearly not easy or superficial but one burnished by the fire of adversity, oppression, and struggle." - "The Book of Joy"
To see them rise above their difficult journeys and choose to live their lives with open hearts and giving spirits is inspiring to say the least. If THEY can choose love over hate, forgiveness over grudges, acceptance over judgement, contentment over bitterness, then I pray I can too.
One of the things that really struck me as I read their words, and became privy to the deep love and affection they have for one another, was how they didn't allow their differences become barriers in their relationship. I recently heard a podcast with Glennon Doyle where she observed:
"Group identity is leading our culture right now. This is our group and this is what we believe and you're either in or you're out. We have lost our value in diversity."
PREACH GIRL. People truly put more value into "fitting in" these days than on working to become exactly who God created them to be. When we start idolizing certain people and wanting to become in their "tribe" so badly that we change who we are to be included, well THAT is where we really can get ourselves in deep trouble.
But back to the book. When you find two spiritual leaders setting an example of love and inclusiveness, I think we all would be well served to sit up and lean in for a good listen. These men have both been through incredibly difficult days, yet they are shining examples of how to find joy and purpose in life, even in turbulent times.
I have a feeling this will be one of those books I will read and re-read again and again. I hope you guys will put this on your "to-read" list. I think you will be changed from it. It truly touched me, inspired me and encouraged me on my walk towards godliness with contentment. Because you know, as the apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy: "godliness with contentment is great gain." :-)
Love you guys,