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The Monk and the Philosopher

Author: Jean Francois Revel
Publisher: Schocken
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Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters. Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred? Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life. Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives. From the Hardcover edition.


In Search of Wisdom

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Sounds True
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In Search of Wisdom is a book born of the friendship of three gifted teachers, exploring the universal human journey and our quest for meaning and understanding. This translation of the French bestseller brings readers an intimate, insightful, and wide-ranging conversation between Buddhist monk and author Matthieu Ricard, philosopher Alexandre Jollien, and psychiatrist Christophe André. Join these three luminaries as they share their views on how we uncover our deepest aspirations in life, the nature of the ego, living with the full range of human emotion, the art of listening, the temple of the body, the origin of suffering, the joy of altruism, true freedom, and much more. “We don't pretend to be experts on the subject matter or models in accomplishing the work or overcoming the obstacles involved in it,” they write. “We are only travelers in search of wisdom, aware that the path is long and arduous, and that we have so much still to discover, to clarify, and to assimilate through practice . . . Our dearest wish is that when you cast your eyes on these pages, you will discover subjects for reflection to inspire you and brighten the light of your life.” In Search of Wisdom Highlights • Discovering our deepest aspirations • The ego: friend or impostor? • Learning to live with the full spectrum of our emotions • The art of listening • The body: burden or idol? • Suffering and its origins • The joy of altruism • The school of simplicity • Guilt and forgiveness • True freedom • Daily practice


Altruism

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Little, Brown
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The author of the international bestseller Happiness makes a passionate case for altruism--and why we need it now more than ever. In Happiness, Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to fleeting moments or sensations, but is an enduring state of soul rooted in mindfulness and compassion for others. Now he turns his lens from the personal to the global, with a rousing argument that altruism--genuine concern for the well-being of others--could be the saving grace of the 21st century. It is, he believes, the vital thread that can answer the main challenges of our time: the economy in the short term, life satisfaction in the mid-term, and environment in the long term. Ricard's message has been taken up by major economists and thinkers, including Dennis Snower, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, and George Soros. Matthieu Ricard makes a robust and passionate case for cultivating altruistic love and compassion as the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society. It's a fresh outlook on an ardent struggle--and one that just might make the world a better place.


The Quantum and the Lotus

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Broadway Books
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Matthieu Ricard trained as a molecular biologist, working in the lab of a Nobel prize—winning scientist, but when he read some Buddhist philosophy, he became drawn to Buddhism. Eventually he left his life in science to study with Tibetan teachers, and he is now a Buddhist monk and translator for the Dalai Lama, living in the Shechen monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. Trinh Thuan was born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam but became intrigued by the explosion of discoveries in astronomy during the 1960s. He made his way to the prestigious California Institute of Technology to study with some of the biggest names in the field and is now an acclaimed astrophysicist and specialist on how the galaxies formed. When Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Thuan met at an academic conference in the summer of 1997, they began discussing the many remarkable connections between the teachings of Buddhism and the findings of recent science. That conversation grew into an astonishing correspondence exploring a series of fascinating questions. Did the universe have a beginning? Or is our universe one in a series of infinite universes with no end and no beginning? Is the concept of a beginning of time fundamentally flawed? Might our perception of time in fact be an illusion, a phenomenon created in our brains that has no ultimate reality? Is the stunning fine-tuning of the universe, which has produced just the right conditions for life to evolve, a sign that a “principle of creation” is at work in our world? If such a principle of creation undergirds the workings of the universe, what does that tell us about whether or not there is a divine Creator? How does the radical interpretation of reality offered by quantum physics conform to and yet differ from the Buddhist conception of reality? What is consciousness and how did it evolve? Can consciousness exist apart from a brain generating it? The stimulating journey of discovery the authors traveled in their discussions is re-created beautifully in The Quantum and the Lotus, written in the style of a lively dialogue between friends. Both the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and the discoveries of contemporary science are introduced with great clarity, and the reader will be profoundly impressed by the many correspondences between the two streams of thought and revelation. Through the course of their dialogue, the authors reach a remarkable meeting of minds, ultimately offering a vital new understanding of the many ways in which science and Buddhism confirm and complement each other and of the ways in which, as Matthieu Ricard writes, “knowledge of our spirits and knowledge of the world are mutually enlightening and empowering.”


A Plea for the Animals

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Shambhala Publications
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Every cow just wants to be happy. Every chicken just wants to be free. Every bear, dog, or mouse experiences sorrow and feels pain as intensely as any of us humans do. In a compelling appeal to reason and human kindness, Matthieu Ricard here takes the arguments from his best-sellers Altruism and Happiness to their logical conclusion: that compassion toward all beings, including our fellow animals, is a moral obligation and the direction toward which any enlightened society must aspire. He chronicles the appalling sufferings of the animals we eat, wear, and use for adornment or "entertainment," and submits every traditional justification for their exploitation to scientific evidence and moral scrutiny. What arises is an unambiguous and powerful ethical imperative for treating all of the animals with whom we share this planet with respect and compassion.


Mr Monk and Philosophy

Author: D. E. Wittkower
Publisher: Open Court
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Mr. Monk and Philosophy is a carefully and neatly organized collection of eighteen chapters divided into exactly six groups of precisely three chapters each. Drawing on a wide range of philosophers—from Aristotle and Diogenes, to Siddhartha Gautama and St. Thomas Aquinas, to David Hume and Karl Popper—the authors ask how Adrian Monk solves his cases, why he is the way he is, how he thinks, and what we can learn from him. Some of the authors suggest Monk is a kind of tragic hero, whose flaws help us live out and expunge the fear and anxiety we all experience; that he is more than just his personality or memories, but something more individual and indefinable; and that his most distinctive traits are not the traits that make him a detective, but those that make him a friend. His most notable trait is the dedication he shows to his late wife, Trudy. Other authors explore how Monk encounters the world, arguing that his genius comes not from logic or reasoning, but from his ability to see his surroundings in a pre-conceptualized way; that there isn’t as much distance between his rational beliefs about crimes and evidence and his irrational phobic beliefs as there might seem; and that his phobias have themselves made him approach himself and the world as something to be overcome. Just how does Mr. Monk come to his conclusions? Does he use inductive, deductive, or abductive reasoning? Is he dependent on a false notion of the law of noncontradiction? Is it possible that his reasoning might have more to do with constructing harmonious stories than it does with evidence, causes, or insights? Some contributors ponder Monk's name and what it means given his views on religion. Some authors argue that Mr. Monk's approach to the world is fundamentally similar to that of medieval monastic orders; that his rituals and deductive ‘dancing’ show how he exhibits a kind of shamanism; and that he acts in accordance with the Bodhisattva ideal, bringing others to enlightenment through circumstances and by accident, even though he has no such intention or goal. In one chapter, the author asks how the character Monk is related to other similar characters, arguing that Monk and House are closely related characters, each based on the conflict between reason and emotion which exemplifies the motif of the “troubled genius;” that Monk and House both pursue ethical practices and goals even as they fail at the everyday face-to-face ethics of normal social interactions; and that great detectives all, through their flaws, help us to understand and forgive ourselves for our flaws. And finally, there are several chapters in which the authors consider Monk from the psychologist’s perspective, discussing how Monk’s relationship with Trudy, while having unhealthy codependent elements, demonstrates some important aspects of successful romantic partnerships; how laughter plays a difficult role in mental illness, and the difficult position that the show and therapists are placed in when having to treat seriously disorders that are both tragic and comic; and how, from a psychoanalytic perspective, Monk’s inability to mourn shows us why we both reject and are drawn towards death. In the words of author D. E. Wittkower, "In order to be sure that the reader is able to enjoy the book, every chapter will have an even number of words. You’ll thank me later."


Beyond the Self

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: MIT Press
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Converging and diverging views on the mind, the self, consciousness, the unconscious, free will, perception, meditation, and other topics. Buddhism shares with science the task of examining the mind empirically; it has pursued, for two millennia, direct investigation of the mind through penetrating introspection. Neuroscience, on the other hand, relies on third-person knowledge in the form of scientific observation. In this book, Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk trained as a molecular biologist, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—close friends, continuing an ongoing dialogue—offer their perspectives on the mind, the self, consciousness, the unconscious, free will, epistemology, meditation, and neuroplasticity. Ricard and Singer's wide-ranging conversation stages an enlightening and engaging encounter between Buddhism's wealth of experiential findings and neuroscience's abundance of experimental results. They discuss, among many other things, the difference between rumination and meditation (rumination is the scourge of meditation, but psychotherapy depends on it); the distinction between pure awareness and its contents; the Buddhist idea (or lack of one) of the unconscious and neuroscience's precise criteria for conscious and unconscious processes; and the commonalities between cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation. Their views diverge (Ricard asserts that the third-person approach will never encounter consciousness as a primary experience) and converge (Singer points out that the neuroscientific understanding of perception as reconstruction is very like the Buddhist all-discriminating wisdom) but both keep their vision trained on understanding fundamental aspects of human life.


The Monk and the Skeptic

Author: Frank Browning
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
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Through his provocative and influential work, most notably The Culture of Desire and A Queer Geography, Frank Browning has proven himself to be an erudite and intellectual writer with deep insights into the fusion of culture and identity. In his new book The Monk and the Skeptic, Browning examines the intersection of sexuality and religion through the framework of conversations between the author and a gay priest to discuss the nature of secular and spiritual friendship; religious thought on same-sex marriage; the relation of the body to God; the mission of charity enacted by the drag troop Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; the biblical prohibitions on improper pleasures of the body; and the history of how the church has viewed the body and desire. Browning manages to bring in a host of influences to his discussion: Descartes, Locke, Greek Myth, Christian Myth, Buddhist myth, Harry Potter, St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as modern writers like Jeanette Winterson, John Boswell, and Daniel Mendelsohn. The result is an engaging, timely, and very modern discourse on how the self and sexuality has been interpreted throughout the ages.


Happiness

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Atlantic Books Ltd
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This step-by-step guide to achieving happiness is the most significant book of its kind since Daniel Goleman's runaway bestseller, Emotional Intelligence. 'A remarkable book. It is hard to imagine a more convincing guide to that elusive thing: happiness' Pankaj Mishra. Although we are materially better off than ever before, surveys show that we are depressed and listless. In his revolutionary book, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard shows that happiness is not just an emotion, but a skill that can be developed. Free of jargon, Happiness contains simple exercises that will train the mind to recognize and pursue happiness by concentrating on the fundamental things in life, and in doing so change the way we view the world. Matthieu Ricard exhorts us to realize the toxic, self-harming nature of anger and envy, get off the roller coaster of alternating happiness and unhappiness, and instead experience the pleasure of being calmly alive and aware. - Sunday Times


Monk Dancers of Tibet

Author: Matthieu Ricard
Publisher: Shambhala Publications
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In the midst of the devastation that has been wrought on their culture, the monk dancers in the Shechen monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, are devoted to preserving the sacred dances central to the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The dances, which originated in India and flourished for centuries in Tibet, are teaching stories—each mask, costume, movement, and gesture has a specific significance and embodies the values of Buddhism. The dances are the monks' spiritual gift to the lay community. The origin of the sacred Buddhist dance, orcham,goes back to the ninth century, when Guru Padmasambhava introduced Buddhism to Tibet. Through the ages, the practice has been advanced by great masters whose visionary experiences enriched and enhanced the dance forms. The sacred dances were then transmitted as accurately as possible by the masters' disciples from generation to generation. The dances are now preserved in exile in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and have been presented in the West, by the monks of Shechen and other Tibetan monasteries, in the same spirit of sharing a profound inner experience. In vivid, full-color photos and illuminating text, the well-known author and photographer Matthiew Ricard reveals the painstaking preparations for and meanings behind the dances, as well as the intriguing history of this uniquely colorful teaching practice.