Dec 20, 2020
4 mins read
Matthieu Ricard was born in France, his father was the late Jean-François Revel, a French philosopher. His mother a painter and Tibetan Buddhist nun Yahne Le Toumelin. Matthieu grew up among French intellectual circles.
He went to India where he lived in the Himalayas studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and other great masters in that tradition. He became a close student and friend of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until the Rinpoche's death in 1991. He dedicates his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche's vision.
He's been called the "happiest person in the world" by popular media. He was volunteered in a study performed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on happiness, scoring significantly above the average of hundreds of volunteers.
He co-authored a study on the brains of long-term meditators, including himself, who had undergone a minimum of three years retreat.
He's a Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. He received a Ph.D. in Cellular Genetics at the Institut Pasteur in France under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob. He has lived in the Himalayas since 1972, studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, two Tibetan spiritual masters. Since 1989, he served as the French interpreter to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the author of the book The Monk and the Philosopher (with his father, the French thinker Jean-Francois Revel), The Quantum and the Lotus (with the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan), Happiness, A guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill and Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World. He has translated several books from Tibetan, including The Life of Shabkar and The Heart of Compassion. As a photographer, he has published several albums, including The Spirit of Tibet, Buddhist Himalayas, and Motionless Journey. He donates all proceeds from his books and much of his time to 140 humanitarian projects in Tibet, Nepal and India, through his charitable association Karuna-Shechen.
He is a best selling author and prominent speaker on the world stage, celebrated at the World Economic Forum at Davos, forums at the United Nations, and at TED where his talks on happiness and altruism have been viewed by over seven million people. He is a charismatic figure who has captured the minds and hearts of people all over the world.
He is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, which is devoted to meetings and collaborative research between scientists, Buddhist scholars and meditators, his contributions have appeared in Destructive Emotions (edited by Daniel Goleman) and other books of essays. He is engaged in research on the effect of mind training on the brain.
“Matthieu Ricard brings together ancient wisdom and scientific insights to put forth a truly compelling global vision for the 21st century, and his voice, his message and his wisdom are greatly needed.” -- Arianna Huffington
Matthieu's photographs of the spiritual masters, the landscape, and the people of the Himalayas have appeared in numerous books and magazines. Henri Cartier-Bresson has said of his work, "Matthieu's camera and his spiritual life make one, and from this springs these images, fleeting and eternal."
He's the author and photographer of Tibet, An Inner Journey and Monk Dancers of Tibet and, in collaboration, the photobooks Buddhist Himalayas, Journey to Enlightenment and Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas.
The dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher, was a best seller in Europe and was translated into 21 languages, and The Quantum and the Lotus (coauthored with Trinh Xuan Thuan) reflects his long-standing interest in science and Buddhism. His 2003 book Plaidoyer pour le bonheur (published in English in 2006 as Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill)explores the meaning and fulfillment of happiness and was a best-seller in France.
In June, 2015, the English translation of Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World was published and excerpted as the cover story of Spirituality & Health Magazine.
He is the also the author of Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion, Between Scientists, Economists, and the Dalai Lama.
Matthieu received the French National Order of Merit for his humanitarian work in the East. He donates all proceeds from his books and conferences, as well as much of his time to over 200 humanitarian projects in Nepal, India and Tibet (www.karuna-shechen.org) which serves over 300,000 beneficiaries every year in the fields of health care, education and social service. He is also active for the preservation of the Himalayan cultural heritage (www.shechen.org). Since 1989, he has acted as the French interpreter to the Dalai Lama.
We recorded this interview in the garden of his Mother's house in France.
Music for the audio interview below kindly provided by Joe Holtaway https://joeholtaway.com