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2/7/13

Matthieu Ricard, Happiness, & Buddhist Meditation

Bookmark and Share What is happiness, and how can we have it? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment. He has been dubbed the "happiest person in the world" by popular media.
French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, he also founded Karuna-Shechen, a humanitarian organization. Matthieu Ricard was a volunteer subject in a study on happiness performed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  He scored significantly beyond the average obtained after testing hundreds of other volunteers.

Ricard grew up among Paris intellectual elite as the son of celebrated French libertarian philosopher Jean-Francois Revel and abstract watercolor painter Yahne Le Toumelin. "All these people used to come around, most of Paris intellectual life. We had all the French painters and I was myself interested in classical music so I met a lot of musicians," he said. "At lunch we'd have three Nobel Prize winners eating with us. It was fantastic. Some of them were wonderful but some could be difficult."

As a young man, he believed what he heard argued among his intellectual friends and those of his father.  Passion and intensity toward life are more important than happiness. The Parisian intellectual climate held happiness as not for keen and great minds.

By the time he got his PhD in cell genetics from the Institute Pasteur in Paris in 1972 he had become disillusioned with the dinner party debates and had already begun to journey to Darjeeling in India during his holidays. A promising career in cellular genetics was not for him.  He moved to India to study Buddhism and emerged 26 years later as something of celebrity thanks to The Monk And The Philosopher, a dialogue on the meaning of life he wrote with his father.

In his book, An Intelligent Guide to Well-Being and Happiness, he tells us we can find real freedom and well-being by paying attention to obstacles either in our mind or external circumstance.

You can find more on him at these links. Here is a link on a dialogue between him and his philosopher father.  The New York Daily News has an article on him. Here is a video of his presentation at TED Talks. You can find many pictures at the Daily Mail. I found especially interesting the video, over an hour long, with Krista Tippet in her On Being program.

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