Book Review: Joyful Wisdom
As a rule, I never go looking for “self help” books. I believe if they are right for me, they will manifest themselves when I need them. The day that Joyful Wisdom presented itself to me was one of those days. I decided to go get a coffee at Starbucks and wander around chapters as I so often do when I find myself in melancholy moods. There’s something about the smell of the books neatly lining all of the walls, the air of creativity, and the potential that some words on a page have to change lives and bring about escapism that just never fails to bring sun to even my cloudiest days. I don’t know if it’s because I’m cheap or because the bargain section is conveniently situated right beside the lid station at Starbucks, but I always seem to start my Chapters journey in the 80% off fiction section. As I sipped my piping hot coffee and stared at all of the books with no intention of actually purchasing any one in particular but only taking in the energy of these blissfully bound beauties, my eyes scanned the bottom shelf and I noticed a bright green binding that caught my eye. To my surprise once picking it up I saw the face of my old friend Yongey, his face gleaming with laughter, eyes squinting with joy and fully dressed in his brightly coloured Buddhist monk robes. I wasn’t aware that he had written a second book; however seeing his laughing face brought up that magnificent energy of self-evolution and lit a fire of possibilities in me. What would I learn this time around?
After reading Joyful Wisdom, I have to say, Yongey did it again. So many of his themes spoke to me. His book is about dealing with change as his sub title states: “Embracing Change and Finding Freedom”. In Joyful Wisdom, Yongey presents tips on how to meditate using many different analogies, and techniques that don’t just include (as so many people often think meditation is) simply trying to think about nothing. He gives tips for being present and finding serenity in your every day – and more than this, his book really discusses the art of letting go and tools to cope with and move though the roller coaster that is life. He deconstructs the terms ‘letting go’ and ‘detachment’ all the while doing so with elegance and simplicity. The way Yongey speaks never ceases to amaze me; as if watching a simple piece of paper fold into a beautiful origami.
At first I picked up this book not sure how to receive it. Than I realized how relevant it was to my life, to all lives. Yongey doesn’t give answers, he gives perspective. It’s because of this that I recommend his books to almost all of my clients. No matter your age, sex, chapter, gender, or phase, this book is a game changer. That being said, I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from this book:
“There’s an old, old story drawn from the sutras, in which the Buddha compared the futility of looking for causes and conditions that give rise to certain thoughts to a solider who’d been shot by a poisoned arrow on the battlefield. The doctor comes to remove the arrow, but the solider says ‘Wait, before you pull out the arrow, I need to know the name of the person who shot me, the village he came from, and the names of his parents and grandparents. I also need to know what kind of wood the arrow is made from, the nature of the material the point is made of, and the type of bird that the feathers attached to the arrow were taken from. And on and on. By the time the doctor has investigated all these questions and returned with answers, the solider would be dead. This is an example of self-created suffering, the kind of intellectual overlay that inhibits us from dealing with painful situations simply and directly. The moral of the story is to let go of the search for reasons and stories, and simply look at experience directly. Extract the poisoned arrow and ask questions later” (Rinpoche 162).
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