Hope, According to the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

15 Feb



I’ve talked about the struggle for hope and peace in the current world climate on this blog. I’ve talked about it so, so minimally to how I’ve thought about it. I worry that therapy for the rest of my life will focus on how to cope with these times, how to forgive so, so many people.

Oh I’m bad at forgiving.

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, however, they know. Well, I suppose they know most everything–they are calm, centered, peaceful people. But they especially know this. The Dalai Lama is a refugee in exile from his own country. Desmond Tutu lived through the South African apartheid. These men know on a level I never will.

And so I turn to them.

Every morning I wake up and read a chapter in The Book of Joy, the book the two of them contributed to. This morning’s reading was so powerful, so timely that I thought maybe it would take years off of my therapy forgiveness if I could just grasp it, just internalize it. I started to compose texts to all my friends full of quotes and thoughts when I realized other people might want this insight too. I might need to reread this insight every day.

So here we are.

Some insight:

Desmond Tutu on difficult world times

What can you do to help change that situation? You might now be able to do a great deal, but start where you are and do what you can where you are. And yes, be appalled. It would be awful if we looked on all of that horrendousness and we said, ah, it doesn’t really matter. It’s so wonderful that we can be distressed. That’s part of the greatness of who we are–that you are distressed about someone who is not family in any conventional way. And yet you feel distressed, equally. It’s incredible just how compassionate and generous people cane.

Desmond Tutu on the world getting better

Yes, we do have setbacks, but you must keep everything in perspective. The world is getting better. Think about the rights of women or how slavery was considered morally justified a few hundred years ago. It takes time. We are growing and learning how to be compassionate, how to be caring, how to be human.

Also related

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” Theodore Parker

The Dalai Lama on empathy and forgiveness 

During my meditation, I actually visualized some of those Chinese local authorities and did one of our practices, called tangled, literally meaning ‘giving and taking.’ I tried to take on their fear, anger, suspicion, and to give them my love, my forgiveness. Of course, this would have nonphysical effect on the ground. It would not change the situation. But you see, mentally it was very, very helpful to keep a calm mind. It was a good opportunity to practice forgiveness and compassion. So I think that every person has the same sort of opportunity, this same capacity.

(I need this I need this I need this.)

Desmond Tutu on the nobility of people

It is also good to recognize–speaking from our struggle against apartheid–how incredibly noble people are. You know human beings are basically good. You know that’s where we have to start. That everything else is an aberration. Anything that swerves away from that is the exception–even when now and again they can be very frustrating. People are remarkably, remarkably, remarkably good, incredible in their generosity.

The Dalai Lama on watching the news

When we look at the news, we must keep this more holistic view. Yes, this or that terrible thing has happened. No doubt, there are very negative things, but at the same time there are many more positive things happening in our world. We musth ave a sense of proportion and a wider perspective. Then we will not feel despair when we see these sad things.

Desmond Tutu on optimism v. hope

Hope is quite different from optimism, which is more superficial indelible to become pessimism when the circumstances change. Hope is something much deeper…I say to people that I’m not an optimist, because that, in a sense is something that depends on feelings more than actual reality. We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings button the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper, and very, very close to unshakable. It’s in the pit of your tummy. It’s not in your head. It’s all in here.

Despair can come from deep grief, but it can also be a defense against the risks of bitter disappointment and shattering heartbreak. Resignation and cynicism easier, more self-soothing postures that do not require the raw vulnerability and tragic risk of hpe. To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that , in time, the storm will pass.

To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that , in time, the storm will pass.


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