Cultivating Joy Syllabus

Book Study

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
His Holiness the Dalai Lama & Archbishop Demond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

Home Practice

Between our weekly gatherings, participants commit to:

Topics and Readings


Week 1:          Part 1 – The Nature of True Joy

  • The Invitation to Joy   ix
  • Introduction   1
  • Arrival: We Are Fragile Creatures   11
  • Why Are You Not Morose?   29

Week 2: Part 2 – The Nature of True Joy

  • Nothing Beautiful Comes Without Some Suffering 43
  • Have You Renounced Pleasure? 51

Week 3: Part 3 = The Nature of True Joy

  • Our Greatest Joy 59
  • Lunch: The Meeting of Two Mischievous People Is Wonderful   67


Week 4:          Part 1 – Obstacles to Joy

  • You Are A Masterpiece in the Making   83
  • Fear, Stress and Anxiety: I Would Be Very Nervous   93
  • Frustration and Anger: I Would Shout   101

Week 5:          Part 2 – Obstacles to Joy

  • Sadness and Grief: The Hard Times Knit Us More Closely Together   109
  • Despair: The World Is in Such Turmoil   115
  • Loneliness: No Need for Introduction   125
  • Envy:  That Guy Goes Past Yet Again in His Mercedes-Benz   135

Week 6: Part 3 – Obstacles to Joy

  • Suffering and Adversity: Passing through Difficulties   145
  • Illness and Fear of Death: I Prefer to Go to Hell   159
  • Meditation: Now I’ll Tell You a Secret Thing   171


Week 7:          Part 1The Eight Pillars of Joy

  • Perspective: There are Many Different Angles   193
  • Humility: I Tried to Look Humble and Modest   203
  • Humor: Laughter, Joking Is Much Better    275

Week 8:         Part 2The Eight Pillars of Joy

  • Acceptance: The Only Place Where Change Can Begin    223
  • Forgiveness:  Freeing Ourselves from the Past   229
  • Gratitude: I Am fortunate to Be Alive   241

Week 9:          Part 3 – The Eight Pillars of Joy

  • Compassion: Something We Want to Become   251
  • Generosity: We Are Filled with Joy   263

Week 10:          A Final Goodbye

  • Celebration: Dancing in the Streets of Tibet   277
  • Departure: A Final Goodbye
  • What Will You Take Away? What Practices and Skills Will You Continue?

Structure of Our Weekly Classes

Each class will focus on key concepts from a few chapters of the book. Each two-hour class will be divided into three parts:

  • Meditate on a concept from the book and discuss your experience with the meditation
  • Interactively learn about and experience elements of what is in those chapters
  • Discuss and practice skills to cultivate joy

Group Guidelines

In order to make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate, discussions will be facilitated. Please make every effort to follow these guidelines.

  • One speaker at a time
  • Speak mindfully to the topic at hand.
  • Respect that each of us comes from different traditions and listen to understand.
  • Listen mindfully. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the speaker
  • Be mindful of time, recognizing others also have insights to share.
  • Keep stories to a minimum. If you need an illustration to clarify, keep it short.
  • Pause when you are speaking so others can jump in.
  • Encourage and support each other. Avoid advice giving or trying to convince others.
  • Mute your microphones when you are not speaking.
  • Commit to attend all sessions
  • Email or text if you will be late, need to leave early or miss a session
  • Arrive a few minutes early so we can start on time
  • Take care of your own needs during group sessions. (We will not have formal breaks)
  • Find a quiet space where you can participate uninterrupted
  • Turn off phones & other media in the background
  • Contact me anytime with questions or concerns. We can “talk” by email or schedule a time for Zoom, FaceTime or phone.

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