The Joy Of Cooking

Over Christmas I read the Book Of Joy, an inspiring and uplifting book based on a week long dialogue between HH Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on the subject of Joy. It’s my book of the year!


Skilfully edited by Douglas Abrams, the book works both as an interesting biography of two truly amazing men, who are also great friends, as well as an exploration of what joy actually is and how can we create more joy in our lives. Their conversation is punctuated with teasing, banter and laughter, and also goes into detail of the challenging experiences and spiritual practises of these highly realised and joyful humans.

I found myself talking to my kitchen team about how the book had inspired and fascinated me, and as a result we ended up bringing a little of the book’s content into one of our cooking classes with our guests last week.

HH Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu agree there are ‘8 pillars of joy’, which are mind states & heart states that are the foundations of joy. Both men are very clear that they believe that joy itself is a by-product, or side effect, of these other states. When we go chasing or striving for joy it seems elusive, but when we cultivate these other qualities, joy spontaneously arises. What are the 8?

  • Perspective (having a broad perspective on any given situation)
  • Humour
  • Humility
  • Compassion
  • Acceptance
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
  • Compassion

In the cooking class (and preceding) we had a really nice discussion about specific times  in the kitchen, or sharing a meal, that brought us into contact with one or more of the 8 qualities above, and how this went on to manifest joy.


One memory came after another – cooking certainly produces heaps of gratitude (for the gardeners, the producers, the maintenance team, the kitchen team, the dishwashers!), perspective (it’s only lunch after all), humility  (when your amazing creation barely gets a thankyou from the guests), and over and over and over – generosity; we give food, and give food, and give our best efforts, and give our love into the food day after day after day.

The cooking class was not your typical cooking class that day, but there were very big and animated smiles, lots of stories and laughter. I hope to continue to talk about these kinds of subjects in the context of cooking because it’s such an amazing opportunity for practise, mindfulness, joyful awareness and connection. IMG_5335

Happy New Year!





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