“No dark fate determines the future – we do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and recreate our lives and the very quality of human life on our planet.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I couldn’t agree more with this quote. We, as humans, are not only responsible for the future of Earth, but also the happiness we experience while inhabiting it.
These wise words came as the pair sat down over a week to talk about their hardships and successes, and their philosophies of life and love. How I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. Thankfully, Doug Abrams was there to capture their reflections and collect them into The Book of Joy.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are two of the greatest spiritual and moral leaders of our time. They have been tested by great personal, political and global adversity and struggles, time and time again, yet travel the world to spread a message of joy.
I have been fortunate to have had a number of conversations with the Dalai Lama, and consider myself incredibly privileged to call Arch a dear friend. Both men are among the most infectiously happy and joyous people I have ever met – their love for life and people has definitely rubbed off on me.
After one meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, we were inspired to set up the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. Supporting entrepreneurs in developing countries to create and operate sustainable and socially-responsible businesses, the Branson Centre empowers people to pursue their passions and do what makes them happy, and in turn transform the world.
Since working with Virgin Unite to set up The Elders in 2007, I have become great friends with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He has been a huge positive influence in my life, and has taught me so many wonderful lessons. The most important being the power of forgiveness. Alongside our shared friend, the late Nelson Mandela, he set the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which forgave people who had committed atrocities and allowed them to apologise to their victims. One moment that gave me great joy was when Peter Gabriel and I taught Arch to swim on Necker. As Arch relaxed and trusted his body, he was soon swimming confidently.
We had a lot of fun that day and laughed a lot. Arch often has me in stitches, he’s always cracking quips – my favourite is when he says: “People sometimes accuse me of name dropping. Just the other day I was at Buckingham Palace and the Queen turned to me and said 'Arch, you are such a name dropper!”
Both the Dalai Lama and Arch do amazing work to promote human happiness, foster harmony, and preserve a culture of peace and non-violence. As someone who has never subscribed to a particular religion I like to live by the Dalai Lama teaching: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
I urge you to buy a copy of The Book of Joy or visit the website for more of the Dalai Lama’s and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s musings and teachings about joy and happiness. In the meantime, #sharethejoy on social media.