Reducing our suffering

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The second of three pieces of wisdom from a ground-breaking book, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. The New York Times bestseller is the product of the deep friendship between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Along with author Douglas Abrams, it attempts to blend contemplative wisdom and modern science.

Aligning with the suffering of others decreases our own suffering.

Many people have colds at this time of year and it can be tempting to give in to low mood, self-centredness and despair. But if we simply be mindful of others who are spluttering, coughing and throbbing with headaches it actually makes us feel a little better. This is also an incentive for getting involved in charity work: whether this means dropping a few coins in a bucket for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul or chatting with a homeless person on the street it all helps to reduce our own suffering.

Cultivating compassion

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The first of three pieces of wisdom from a ground-breaking book, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. The New York Times bestseller is the product of the deep friendship between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Along with author Douglas Abrams, it attempts to blend contemplative wisdom and modern science.

Compassion can be cultivated and nourished each day.

Although Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama come from very different traditions, Christianity and Buddhism, they both train their minds and hearts in cultivating genuine concern for the well-being of their neighbours. For example, the Dalai Lama refers to the Chinese oppression of the Tibetans. Essentially, he takes in their anger, hatred and abuse and returns this destructive energy with love, forgiveness, and peace. Archbishop Tutu speaks of a similar practice that he developed during his major struggle with the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and he is now known as a model of compassion throughout the world.

Warm hearts

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As things revved up in Dublin, I decided to unwind with another retreat. Notably, I forgot how to spell the word ‘beginning’ after my first evening meditating – a subtle reminder to start again. On the second day, I met for a few minutes with a facilitator. I told her how I had exerted a lot of energy in my career, that I was probably too wilful and that I felt drained, unmotivated and dry. To my surprise, she said that wilfulness was totally understandable for a man of my age and that I was placing a lot of judgement on myself. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked her for her comments and saw things from a different perspective. Continue reading

Motherly love

Motherly love

Advent (from Latin meaning ‘coming’) is a time – about four weeks – of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and is practised among many Christians throughout the world. Mary, mother of Jesus, is a central figure in this story. I look to her as someone who embodied a ‘big heart for a big world’. I imagine that God wanted to give new life to the people of earth through her willingness and cooperation. She completely opened her heart by saying “Yes” when the angel requested her to become the mother of Jesus. Continue reading