The Book of Joy

“So we all have the potential for affection. And now scientists are discovering that our basic nature is compassionate. The problem is that children go to schools where they are not taught to nurture these deeper human values, so their basic human potential becomes dormant”. The Dalai Lama

“And so I think we shouldn’t think we are superwomen and supermen. To hold down emotions in a controlled environment, as it were, is not wise. I would say go ahead and even maybe shout out your sadness and pain. This can bring you back to normal. It’s locking them up and pretending that they are not there that causes them to fester and become a wound. I’ve not read this in a book. It’s just know how I have handled them”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu (RIP)

Last blog, I shared with you a book that Rhys had left for me. As often happens, when I find material which is extraordinary wisdom for the journey, I devour the book in days. This is one of the most incredible books I have read in a while.

I often question spiritual leaders and their pomp and grandeur. These two fellas, came through immense struggles to be shining lights for the world. The Dalai Lama spoke of his flight from Tibet when the conflict between China and Tibetans was peaking, he knew that if he did not flee, more blood would be shed as the people tried to protect him. I would never have understood this loyalty not being a Tibetan. Yet, I understand this loyalty as a human being who wishes to embrace compassion.

With the author of the book Douglas Abrams

The Dalai Lama gave the people of Tibet hope, without hope there would have been anarchy. We have seen poor leaders cause such anarchy over the years which is why we pay attention to power in the wrong hands.

The real heroes of this world, those spoken and those unspoken. The hero who cleans in hospitals, the hero who cooks for prisoners, the hero who shows love to an outcast, the hero who gives a basket of food to the poor, the parent who restricts their child from technology where they know it is causing untold sorrow. What are we doing for humanity?

Apartheid, Mandela and Tutu, shoulder to shoulder. Archbishop Tutu had also seen his moments of great pain and suffering. We can never underestimate the years of Apartheid and what they meant to the people living under the yoke of this evil. He too emerged as a leader of love and hope. He too called for forgiveness rather than revenge.

One of the most astounding statements that Archbishop Tutu made was, “I don’t want to go to a homophobic Heaven”. His youngest daughter having married a Dutch woman. It reminded me of the love that joins us, regardless of doctrine, age old doctrine, distributed to control the masses. Who said that everything written is true? I ask you, I beg you not to allow doctrine to separate you from a wider view of humanity. As I have allowed my own prejudice and unrest to subside with regards to religions, I am able to embrace human beings without allowing the conditioning to separate us.

I cannot live to condemn based on written ‘truth’. We isolate ourselves from the greater work that is needed in this world when we put up unethical boundary lines, when we judge and criticise based on the information supplied by those in a time when intelligence was poor. If we are a warrior of change, of compassion, of love, of kindness, then we cannot uphold these old prejudices, lest our light be just a faint glow.

Isolate ourselves. See what happens. Isolate ourselves in our religions, our Governments, our corporate boardrooms, our schools, our social circles and see what happens. Because this world is about community. We are all the same, seeking for compassion, love, kindness, gratitude. Every time we allow the ego to detract us on this journey, we isolate ourselves. That is why people who cannot forgive, who are always feeling anger, who do not laugh at the pettiness of things are very isolated. Break out of that if we can, cease to judge and criticise and become a part of the wider community of humanity.

There are things that we must tackle as a community. Climate change, racism, greed, lust for power and control etc…. To say nothing against these forms of community abuse is to show no compassion to those who are directly in the line of fire. But we must also start with the question to ourselves first, are we living a moral and ethical journey whilst we pick holes in others? When we complain about our demise, let us bare a thought for those people who will go to bed this evening without food, who will freeze to death in the winter chill, who will wake with a bruised body from domestic abuse, who will conceive a child through rape. How can so many of us complain when we are so fortunate?

We can choose our path. People who say we cannot are looking for an excuse not to change direction. I believe we can choose because I have lived and felt it. Many choices have been sent my way over the last two years, the choices that I made have brought me to a place of such peace, such inclusion, such love. We can have all the money, materialism, friends and power in the world and be so lonely.

When I was in NYC, I met a Tibetan woman who had made that arduous journey with her Mum and siblings to India. It had taken her many uncomfortable choices to reach NYC, she could barely read and write English but Tashi worked as au pair and the family loved her. She treated the children like they were her own. She was able to send money back to her family in Dharamsala as well as enjoy a life in NYC. This is where capitalism can help those, thousands of miles away. Yet, how many do you know in your immediate circle who helps anyone outside of their immediate family or friends? Just a small amount could make the difference. A smile, a cup of tea to the homeless, a hug, a kind word, compassion. How do you know what that person is tackling as you pass them by without so much as a smile. Human beings dismissing other human beings in the race to achieve, amass. I know people who are so focused on money, waiting for that retirement. Be careful you don’t make it there and then miss out on the community spirit of the world in the interim.

Tibetan Tashi

Places and people can often frustrate us but we remember, we are all the same. We may have differences physically and psychologically but no one wants to suffer needlessly. No one wants to feel lonely and sad. No one wants to have an empty belly every night with a few unhealthy scraps thrown in here and there. There is a need for us to show love and compassion on our doorstep. Yet, we don’t see it because we are too bothered chasing the ego, the Me, the mine, the I.

I went to the dental department a couple of days ago and what would have cost me quite a bit in the UK cost me £14.45 here on the island. Charmaine, the hygienist dealt with my mouth as if it were her own. She was gentle, kind and had sufficient time to tutor me on better ways of taking care of my teeth. She and the people who work in the dental department are an entirely different experience from the many I have had in the UK. Exploitative measures to earn more money. Yet the quality given by Charmaine is far superior. Capitalism should not be as it is. Constantly looking at ways to increase profit even when volume says we are doing very well. Greed on a scale that makes my stomach do flips. I understand that many countries are subsidised by the wealthier countries, this is how it should be.

Some will complain about foreign aid. The greedy, the Me, the I, the Mine. Long has first world countries had more than they needed. Cutting foreign aid is all about the ego. “I’m ok, to hell with you”. Media will sometimes promote these egotistical trends. I talked to someone who arrived recently from London, she is learning much about what is needed on this island and the world over outside of Great Britain.

If it hadn’t been for the Indian Government’s humanitarian embrace of the Tibetans, many thousands might have been like the Syrians at the moment, displaced and destitute. The Tibetans have been given a chance to preserve their cultural values and their people. What if the worlds resources were pooled for the greater good? I’m not talking about communism or Capitalism. I am talking about more human compassion. Nothing will work unless we humans learn to regulate ourselves ethically.

Thank you Rhys for sharing this epic information with me. By sharing, you will have also inspired others to share too.

I’d like to dedicate this blog to Rhys Hobbs who left on the plane from St Helena this morning. Not because of Rhys’ job here on the island but because he cared, he smiled, he was kind, he made me laugh. I loved the banter. We take the elements of life which aren’t that serious (making a tit of ourselves) so serious and we neglect to give the really important elements of life the seriousness it deserves (compassion and kindness).

A lovely tattoo on a young woman who works in Chad’s Store.

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