Matthieu Ricard


Buddhist Monk, Photographer, and Author, Ph.D. in Cell Genetics, Son of the Philosopher, Essayist and Journalist Jean-François Revel (born Jean-François Ricard) and Painter Yahne The Toumelin

Author Quotes

No matter how complex our instruments may be, no matter how sophisticated and subtle our theories and calculations, it's still our consciousness that finally interprets our observations. And it does so according to its knowledge and conception of the event under consideration. It's impossible to separate the way consciousness works from the conclusions it makes about an observation. The various aspects that we make out in a phenomenon are determined not only by how we observe, but also by the concepts that we project onto the phenomenon in question.

Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive rumination on the past and anticipation of the future. You are not truly paying attention to the present moment, but are engrossed in your thoughts, going on and on in a vicious circle, feeding your ego and self-centeredness. This is the opposite of bare attention. To turn your attention inside means to look at pure awareness itself and dwell without distraction, yet effortlessly, in the present moment. If you cultivate these mental skills, after a while you won?t need to apply contrived efforts anymore. You can deal with mental perturbations like the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas deal with crows. The crows often attack them, diving at the eagles from above. But, instead of doing all kinds of acrobatics, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, lets the diving crow pass, and then extends its wing again. The whole thing requires minimal effort and causes little disturbance.

Same thing with philosopher, same thing with scientist, same thing with artist, no matter what their particular skill or genius was, there was no correlation as such between there human qualities and there particular genius.

There is no question of not experiencing emotions; it?s a question of not being enslaved by them. Let emotions arise, but let them be freed from their afflictive components: distortion of reality, mental confusion, clinging, and suffering for oneself and others.

What brings a little more fulfillment in life? And it seems that we so much put our hopes and fears in the outer conditions.

It is by striving ceaselessly to change our emotions that we will succeed in changing our temperament.

So now let's be clear from the beginning, we want the outer conditions to be optimal, compared to 150 years ago where the life expectancy, even in Europe, was like 30 years.

There is no such thing as good and bad in an absolute sense. There is only the good and bad- the harm in terms of happiness and suffering- that our thoughts and our actions do to ourselves and others.

What is happiness, and how can we achieve it? Happiness can?t be reduced to a few agreeable sensations. Rather, it is a way of being and of experiencing the world?a profound fulfillment that suffuses every moment and endures despite inevitable setbacks. The paths we take in search of happiness often lead us to frustration and suffering instead. We try to create outer conditions that we believe will make us happy. But it is the mind itself that translates outer conditions into happiness or suffering. This is why we can be deeply unhappy even though we ?have it all??wealth, power, health, a good family, etc.?and, conversely, we can remain strong and serene in the face of hardship.

It is in learning music that many youthful hearts learn to love.

Some think they have to feel uncomfortable, that in life there must be zero days to better appreciate the richness of moments of happiness and benefit from the pleasant contrast. But are sincere weary of those who claim to lasting happiness? What kind of happiness speak? How the euphoria that degenerates into boredom, the pleasures fallen, the joys of languishing ?.

Those whom summer?s heat tortures yearn for the full moon of autumn without even fearing the idea that a hundred days of their life then will have passed forever

When people experience ?moments of grace?, or ?magical moments? in daily life, while walking in the snow under the stars or spending a beautiful moment with dear friends by the seaside, what is really happening? All of a sudden, they have left their burden of inner conflicts behind. They feel in harmony with others, with themselves, with the world. It is wonderful to fully enjoy such magical moments, but it is also revealing to understand why they feel so good: pacification of inner conflicts; a better sense of interdependence with everything rather than fragmenting reality; and a respite from the mental toxins of aggression and obsession. All these qualities can be cultivated through developing wisdom and inner freedom. This will lead not just to a few moments of grace but to a lasting state of well-being that we may call genuine happiness. In this state, feelings of insecurity gradually give way to a deep confidence that you can deal with life?s ups and downs. Your equanimity will spare you from being swayed like mountain grass in the wind by every possible praise and blame, gain and loss, comfort and discomfort. You can always draw on deep inner peace, and the waves at the surface will not appear as threatening.

It is the mind that translates good and bad circumstances into happiness or misery. So happiness comes with the purging of mental toxins, such as hatred, compulsive desire, arrogance and jealousy, which literally poison the mind. It also requires that one cease to distort reality and that one cultivate wisdom.

That's what Buddhism has been trying to unravel - the mechanism of happiness and suffering. It is a science of the mind.

To deal with anger, we avoid letting our mind jump again and again to the trigger for our anger. Then we look at anger itself and keep our attention upon it. If we stop adding wood to a fire and just watch, the fire will die out. Likewise, anger will vanish away, without being forcibly repressed or allowed to explode.

When we are overwhelmed by anger, we cannot dissociate from it. We perpetuate a vicious circle of affliction by rekindling anger each time we see or remember the person who makes us angry. We become addicted to the cause of suffering.

It's quite clear that the outer conditions themselves are not enough [for happiness], or necessary or useful they might be... We can clearly see that our state of mind, the way we interpret and translate those outer conditions into our inner sort of experience, are what really determines states of well-being and the state of misery. The state of mind can easily override those outer conditions: We can feel terrible in a little paradise, and we can feel still very strong and joyful and wish to contribute to the happiness of others, even in the face of adversity.

The basic root of happiness lies in our minds, outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable.

To grant forgiveness to someone who has truly changed is not a way of condoning or forgetting his or her past crimes, but of acknowledging whom he or she has become.

While it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it.

Leadership has to be someone who somehow inspires you by showing you the kind of potential that you could actualize, showing you what you could become, and give you a sense of direction and inspiration.

The goal of meditation is precisely to make your mind smooth and manageable so that it can be concentrated or relaxed at will; and especially to free it from the tyranny of mental afflictions and confusion

To the lover, a beautiful woman is an object of desire, for the hermit, a distraction, and the wolf, a good bite.

Who doesn't want to live long, to be healthy, to have access to education, to have a wonderful working place, harmonious human relations in once family, with friends, with people, live in a country where there is peace, where there is not an oppressive regime. All that we deeply yearn for that, and that's right. We develop that to the maximum we can, especially in a world where this is far from being granted.

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Buddhist Monk, Photographer, and Author, Ph.D. in Cell Genetics, Son of the Philosopher, Essayist and Journalist Jean-François Revel (born Jean-François Ricard) and Painter Yahne The Toumelin