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From the beginnings of recorded history, murderous invasions have crazed the global community from which relatively few have emerged unscathed. Yet from such mayhem, some, through meditation, have forged fresh paradigms of leadership.

Such has been the case in our time. Two stand apart: Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. The 1959 Chinese invasion of Tibet and the decades-long apartheid in South Africa scored these men with indescribable angst but did not vanquish them. With wisdom and compassion, both still shepherded their people: one toward the relocation of Tibetan Buddhism in India’s upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and the other toward the elimination of apartheid with the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela’s government.

In 2015, Desmond Tutu chose to honor the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday by visiting him in exile. In his company was Douglas Abrams, his literary agent. For five days, the octogenarians shared, their faces crinkled with mirth as they quipped, held hands, and opened their hearts to each other.

Fortunately for us, their dialogue fills the pages of The Book of Joy – Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016), a book to be savored, not read. Their lifelong practice of daily meditation, though coming from differing spiritual traditions, fills them with abounding joy. A final chapter includes such practices—A tonic for whatever troubles us.

Surrendering to the Stillness within empowers us to listen for direction and take action, thereby becoming spiritual warriors in a world sorely in need of truth.

 

 

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“If you love the truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sun will illuminate you in God.”—a trenchant saying attributed to Isaac the Syrian, the seventh-century Bishop, theologian, and monk who the Eastern Orthodox Church regards as a saint.

Simple words, if pondered, reveal the unseen caught in the flux of time. Key to this process is passion, whose firelight, like the sun, ignites inner worlds. But who cares to go there? To discipline unruly instincts clamoring for expression? That would be like dying. Such flies in the face of our cultural mores, engulfed in denial and rationalization. The predictable is more comfortable, yet soulless.

It does not take much to see who is truly alive among us: their quickening gaze, their resonant voices, their authority, of whatever age and background.

That’s what happens when you sit in the fire.

 

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