Sunday, June 7, 2009

For Tibet, With Love (Sunday Spiritual Series)

I studied in London for a semester in college.  It was amazing.  In addition to all the fabulous sites there, there were endless book stores to visit.  There was a Waterstones (basically the British version of Borders or Barnes and Noble) just down the road from where we attended classes.   I went there most days before or after class.  One book caught my eye there, but I had already bought way too many books on the trip.  My suitcases were going to be seriously overweight, so I just visited my precious volume from time to time.  

This book was For Tibet, With Love by Isabel Losada.  Finally, in my last week there, I bought the book for our post-finals trip to Italy.  On the plane from London to Rome, the train from Pompeii to Venice, the hostel in Florence, and everywhere in between, I read the book from cover to cover, then opened it again and read it through a second time.  By the time we were flying back from Pisa to London, I think I was reading Henry James.  

Anyway, about the book.  It's about a British woman who begins to learn more about the struggles of the Tibetan people and their oppression by the Chinese.  The book chronicles her journey to Tibet and also a later trip to India to meet with the Dalai Lama himself.  She also writes a great deal about the history of the Tibetan people and about the Buddhist faith.  I was completely captivated and inspired.  The subtitle of the book (and the American version's title if you want to buy it in the States) is A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World.  And it truly is.

The book is structured around the Serenity Prayer which is :

God, grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

She works with this prayer throughout the book and addresses each line of the prayer in a different section of the book.  

The prayer is usually attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, but the origins are somewhat hazy and sometimes disputed.  It's also the prayer that is used by AA in some form.  

As I was reading the Wikipedia article about it to learn a bit more about it for this post, I saw this Mother Goose nursery rhyme from 1695 that is cited there.  Some suggest that Niebuhr may have unconsciously received inspiration for his prayer from it:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it; 
If there be none, never mind it.

I love that rhyme!  It certainly does have some similarities to the prayer!

I hope that I can start my week with more serenity.  Remembering this prayer again has inspired me.  

For Tibet, With Love is a fantastic book-it is similar to Eat, Pray, Love in some ways, if you enjoyed that one.  Isabel Losada has written a few other books, including the Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment.  I haven't read it, but I hope to soon.  In this book (which preceded For Tibet) Losada tries out numerous spiritual and secular methods that are supposed to lead to enlightenment.  Another book to add to my list!  

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