Interview with Matthieu Ricard: "Need altruism to emerge from the crisis"

After The monk and the philosopher o The defense of happinessthe most famous Ambassador of Buddhism in the West, interpreter of the Dalai Lama, has just published his latest book in France: The defense of altruism. By Koncha pines-Pey for space MIMIND.

Matthieu Ricard

Le Moustier, a French village between Brive and Périgueux. A few kilometres away, the cave of Lascaux. In the forest, and above the village, the small house Yahne Tourmelin, 90-year-old. On the table is bread, salad and cheese. His son Matthieu Ricard It is this morning at the Buddhist Centre on the other side of the village, to translate the teachings of a Tibetan lama to a French group. The Ring, the retreat center, was born 70 years ago under the inspiration of the son of Kangyur Rinpoche, the first spiritual master of Matthieu Ricard. The greatest Tibetan masters arrived in Europe have come to this valley where we are situated in the Dordogne.

Matthieu Ricard devoted to his elderly mother every summer, is close to his sister Eva. With shaved head and innocent appearance, the son of the philosopher Jean - François Revel and the painter, artist and Buddhist nun - since 1968 - Jahne, smiles. The book presenting us is more than a book, is the "most important book in his life". The defense of altruism is the strength of benevolence. In total almost a thousand pages that are nothing more than a summary of a life devoted to meditation, research, discussions and debates with scientists, philosophers, teachers of wisdom. More than a book is a continuous scientific fact, confirmation that the revolution in neuroscience is underway, the beginning of a road, a bridge between East and West, intuition, reason, science and the mind... He is Matthieu Ricard, and feels that he is wise.

There is no one who has known that can be submitted as "the happiest man in the world" - that said the University of Wisconsin. What monk, translator of the Dalai Lama since 1989, Ph.d. in cellular Genetics at the Pasteur Institute, fascinated by Tibetan lamas in 1966 for 35 years. He traveled to the India, Nepal, tireless Ambassador of the Buddhist cause.

An active member of Mind and Life Institute, It seeks to deepen the understanding of the functioning of the mind and the promotion of Buddhism and science, he has participated in numerous programs of research on the beneficial effects of meditation on the brain.

This monk, philosopher, translator, and writer has donated all rights copyright to Karuna - Shechen, an entity that manages more than 130 projects in the fields of education and health in the India, Nepal and Tibet. It has built schools for 25,000 children, 18 bridges and 17 clinics serving more than 100,000 patients per year. Do not wear trousers for more than 40 years, has two dresses and a pair of shoes. He divides his time between the monastery of Nepal Shechen, near Kathmandu and the rest of the world, giving lectures.

Is altruism the deep heart of his latest book?
I discovered that altruism has a key role in most aspects of our lives, and above all it is the key to solve the problems we are experiencing, crisis social, economic, respect the environment and be able to progress. I want to prove that there is altruism at individual and social levels and that altruism is not a luxury or a noble ideal, but is essential in times of shortage and bonanza.

Altruism is a necessity in the world economy and labour, education, even in intimate relationships. One of the greatest challenges of our time is to reconcile the demands of the economy and the pursuit of happiness and respect for the Earth. These three requirements correspond to three time scales: short, medium and long term, overlapping three types of interest: the intimate, social, and those of all beings

We need a thread, Monsieur Ricard, that will allow us to find a way around the maze of problems.
Exactly. Altruism is the common thread that enables us to find our way through these three time scales: short, medium and long, through the harmonization of requirements

Is it too late to be pessimistic?
Yes, and being happy is the most upstream that we can be.

The Defense of altruism It is situated at the crossroads of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, economics, and ecology, and invited scientists and friends as American psychologist Daniel Batson, Richard Davidson, Tania Singer o Paul Eckman.

The book is exciting, educational, argued, dense and glossy, breaks all preconceived ideas "that war has always existed, or that the violence is innate in the brain". Underlines the importance of the media and journalists to diminish his pessimistic view "everything is going from bad to worse, because it is false". Ricard shows that we do not have confidence in human nature, kindness, or altruism and this is precisely the problem. "If someone commits a crime, we say that it is human nature. If you do something good, that he is a Saint. But 80% of people do good things not notable every day"

Was Freud wrong?
We can show how a baby of six months already is altruistic, until age approximately five years discrimination begins. This defense mechanism is extended until 12 or 13 years. Altruism is an ability of the human brain that develops by its plasticity. If we accept that all trains, music, sport, math, why we do not accept that altruism can not drop us from heaven. Research in neuroscience shows that brain activity in subjects who meditate on compassion is very high in brain regions associated with positive emotions. We are reaching the threshold of exciting discoveries that should demonstrate that we can transform the mind... It is much more of what psychology has ever done

Is altruism compatible with modern economic system?
Neuroscience experiments have shown that people are willing to trust in 70% of cases. and that 30% of people do not trust the altruism. But if we support an economic system lacking any regulation, the selfish - 30% - will have great force-. The Altruist must combine their efforts, expand, and reverse that imbalance. For that you have to train more in compassion. Inequality increases, but so too does the sympathetic reaction to that inequality. A revolution is underway, and that is based on more universal responsibility.

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By • 12 Nov, 2013 • section: General