October 27, 2011
Matthieu Ricard —
The Happiest Man in the World

A renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher shares his thoughts on the meaning of happiness, and how he understands spirituality as "contemplative science."

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Guests

is a French-Tibetan monk and the Dalai Lama's French interpreter. He's also the founder of the humanitarian organization Karuna-Shechen.

Pertinent Posts

Video Interviews with Krista Tippett

In the Room with Matthieu Ricard

From a hotel room in Vancouver, watch a recording of the live video stream we shared with our viewers in real time.

Selected Readings

"The Universe in a Grain of Sand"

A chapter from a dialogue between Ricard and Vietnamese astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan.

About the Image

A composite photo of a Tibetan monk long-jumping on the beach.

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21Reflections

Reflections

Dear SOFers,

Well, so-called fellow SOFers...Indeed! Hmmm, it's OK isn't, when one so dearly wishes that friends and even those with political differences are recommended to hear the 'message' contained in the Ricard interview(s). I will share the wisdom and ideas from Mr. Ricard's interview with Ms Tippet, gladly; and with a smile, too!

I am sending the link of the interview to friends, family, and professional colleagues (school psychologists) who I know will benefit from the wisdom contained in the interview(s). Mr. Ricard appears to accent the importance of a growing movement, not limited to just pop-psychology or yeah sayers that expands the notion of positive psychology. Its potential is life/earth saving... Mr. Ricard gives testament to our interdependence. He gives voice to a world with challenges experienced as much with wonderment, and with a call to action for a more civil society. It's a call to duty! It was through Mr. Ricard's and Ms Tippetts back-and forth dialogue that I heard hope. Yet, there was for the listener a sense-a-need of greater purpose for us all. And a commitment to possible positive impact on our nation. Quite and interview indeed!

I have studied and practiced Buddhism for over 30 years. Matthieu Richard's interview with Krista Tippet was a grand " AhHah" experience. He seemed to gather all my random thoughts and feelings and laid them out in a way that I can now understand where and why I am in relation to my practice. He took me to a further step. Thank all of you for giving me this unforgettable teaching.

Peace & Blessings

Susan Bistline

This site is so full of gems that when I first saw it I felt like a child in a candy shop not knowing what to read/listen to first. I am so grateful for a site like this. Thank you for making it available.

A wonderful episode!

I found Mathieu Ricard's joy at life absolutely contagious. His description of the discipline necessary to "cultivate" happiness is so pragmatic, simple and honest it just has to fit my western mind. In some people there is a quality; be it depth, joy, playfulness, sincerity... whatever... contentment, happiness...I don't know, but something profound and deep is communicated that gives me hope. This episode brought me hope that we don't always wage war, we don't always subvert, connive, or deceive. This story gave me hope in myself.

Sometimes we need to remember that we can't fix all that is wrong in the world. But we can bring a crucial element that makes things a bit better. Again the western mind wants to fix things with money, power, pragmatism but maybe it takes a song, a melody, a story or a painting. I guess this episode helped me see that I'd be doing the world a favor if I just practiced my guitar.

Much Thanks,

David Hill
Denmark, Maine

Monk Matthieu Richard's interview was a pleasure to listen to. He genuinely seems like a very happy and content man. I truly enjoyed his definition of happiness: Clearly seeing inner conditions that foster flourishing and fulfillment. Many times pleasure and happiness are used in the same context, but they are not the same. Happiness is a way of being which gives a person the resources to deal with life's up and downs. Pleasure depends on circumstances, which is vulnerable to change. In order to become happy he said solve inner circumstances; identify and cultivate them. A powerful interview indeed.

As I listened to what Mattieu Ricard had to say about life and happiness, I felt at peace. He had such a calming voive and outlook on life, I made me question my own life. As a mother of 3, and one more on the way, I reflected on my own behavior and hope I can take an ounce of what he said and apply it to my own life. To be happy and try to spread the same feelings is something everyone could do, perhaps the world would be a better place. "Happiness can help us deal with life", and I think that I will take that one piece of what Mattieu say to heart and try to be happier not only for myself, but for everyone around me.

Just when I was feeling like I’ve gotten nowhere with my life, it seems like I have been going school for a long time and haven’t decided or even know what I want to do with my life. My parents wants me do so many things but it doesn’t make me happy and usually the plans fails because I don’t put any effort in it. After a lot of thinking, I just want to be happy with what I’m doing. Just as I started with my homework, I had gone onto, “Speaking of Faith” to finish my assignment. I was very surprised that the main article was about the “happiest” man in the world. I usually wait awhile later to listen to the broadcast but just the title seemed interesting already. Half way into the broadcast, I was very surprised to learn who was Mattheiu Richard was. I’m still amazed to how he changed from a cell biologist to a Buddhist. I think he had set a good example that one doesn’t know exactly what one is suppose to do, as time changes; one will learn what one love most.

After listening to whole broadcast, Mattheiu Richard, to me is the happiest man in the world. The way he talks and the way he presents himself is very positive and the information that he presented. Overall, I thought his broadcast with Kirsta Tippett was very interesting because I never knew there was such thing as a person being the happiest but after listening to this broadcast, I understand how one can become happy in what one does with one’s work.

It was an interesting broadcast, opening the world I'm far from and heard only general information about. It's always nice to hear from the insider, it gives much better understanding about what they really feel, think, value; something cannot be read in a book. It's also amazing to hear a person who found his place in life, found the truth he believes (though I wouldn't agree with the guest here). And finally, there are so many ideas most of us know from childhood that we almost stop paying attention to their true meaning and value (as Stace wrote in Time and Eternity: their meaning was "debased by parrot-like repetition"), but the life of this man proves that many are still working, for example it's possible to find a place where people behave, think, and say, the same thing, that happiness is not measured by the amount of money or fame you have, that happiness inside one's bubble doesn't work either, and that good behavior should be constantly practiced. Thanks for the broadcast.

Great discussion. Areas of Buddhism and Science were bridged very well during this discussion. Matthieu Ricard's thoughts and views were fascinating. Such a privilege to have had the opportunity to listen to this interview from Ireland. Thank you so much!

Love Matthieu Ricard. Read his books many times.

Why does Krista say "human beings may actually learn something?" Don't we already know?

It seems we need to point out in our world around us the sources of "antidialogic action" as in Paulo Freire. He defines very well why altruism "doesn't exist". Why is was so systematically and ubiquitously talked down using Ayn Rand in the 20th Century after the War.

Or there is poverty, inequality, violence over resources. Violence set up and "seeded" over resources. With the guns paid for clandestinely.

Or why human beings have limiting thoughts in their heads which hold them back from creating a better world they would all like.

Why the state was denigrated and is failing now.

It is all very clear. Lincoln knew. Jefferson knew. Franklin knew. They just may not have been explicit enough in their checks and balances scheme to sequester it! They may not have had adequate faith in humanity in 18th century. There was perhaps too much debate about the potential for mere citizens, so our own Supreme Court is confused, or has a license to ignore.

I don't see what human beings have to learn. We know it already and just have to move through the people in dialogue so they can free themselves from imaginary bounds. These bounds of the mind were observed by Romans in the Judean peasants and commented on in extant writings. They were not the experience of students of the Mystery Schools. Nor are they the experience of practitioners of Buddhism or other Spiritual practice today. Though, they may be the experience of Buddhists in Feudal Tibet!

We just have to all name it. Call it for what it is. And legislate against it! Because the perpetrators of "antidialogic" action are killing the planet and choking the life from all of us against every Democratic (and therefore Socratic) principle.

We have to stop treating them like they are a secret that can't be discussed. They are behind the curtain and we have been told to "pay no attention to the man..." behind it now for too long. Some of us may even have been threatened.

We need to evolve the "social construction" as Spinoza observed in 1600s we are well capable of doing, which he said is the "real expression of our divinity"!

We don't have to learn. We have to collectively act on the spiritual insights we know to be true! Let the dialogue of popular education begin!

I have been practicing mind training through meditation and studying Buddha's teaching for past 15 years at home alone with occasional retreats and mostly reading books. My sincere wish to people who get inspirations from conversations like this that Krista brings to us, would make efforts to find out in depth of Buddha's teaching. Development of your critical thought process will be worth of your time and effort. You do not have to be a monk to be in this process. There are so much resources out there. You only need to make a decision to make changes and take a first step.

As always a grand show, if you know someone who isn't listening to SOF they are missing a wonderful chance to expand their thoughts and dreams. 20 minutes of compassion practice a day is useful advice in this show, how do people do this? recommendations?

This show turned me on to Buddhist practice. Thank you.

This was quite an interesting and enlightening broadcast to listen to. I have always been interested in Eastern religions (and even took a college class on them) so this one particularly appealed to me.

My favorite part of the interview, and most meaningful to me, was the last half of it which focuses on Matthieu's fame as being the happiest man in the world. He explains that people should contemplate happiness and compassion and cultivate those good feelings - never any feelings of hate as that is a waste of time. He says that like becoming a good photographer, this contemplation takes practice and is not something that happens overnight.

My personal favorite quote by Matthieu within the interview is this: "If you see the humanity in the world, grains of sand that bring everything to a halt — it's corruption, clashes of egos, human factors more than resources. So, how to avoid that? There's a lack of human maturity. So it's not a vain or futile exercise to perfect yourself to some extent before you serve others, otherwise it's like cutting the wheat when it's still green. And nobody is fed by that. So we need a minimum of readiness to efficiently and wisely be at the service of others. So compassion needs also to be sort of enlightened by wisdom. Otherwise, it's blind."

I have always been a person who leaps into helping someone without considering myself for even a second and listening to Matthieu made me realize how destructive that can be. Even though I have always had that old saying "you have to help yourself before you can help others" in the back of your head, listening to Matthieu helped that actually sink in. If you want to really aid the people around you, you must be ready and have wisdom behind that help first.

I truly enjoyed listening to this. I have always admired buddhism but I suppose, in a way, I always found its values and beliefs as far away and difficult to reach. Listening to Matthieu during his interview, however, makes it all seem a lot closer and easier to achieve even if being a true Buddhist is not your final goal. I'd certainly reccomend a listen to this!

As I listened to what Mattieu Ricard had to say about life and happiness, I felt at peace. He had such a calming voive and outlook on life, I made me question my own life. As a mother of 3, and one more on the way, I reflected on my own behavior and hope I can take an ounce of what he said and apply it to my own life. To be happy and try to spread the same feelings is something everyone could do, perhaps the world would be a better place. "Happiness can help us deal with life", and I think that I will take that one piece of what Mattieu say to heart and try to be happier not only for myself, but for everyone around me.

It was an interesting broadcast, opening the world I'm far from and heard only general information about. It's always nice to hear from the insider, it gives much better understanding about what they really feel, think, value; something cannot be read in a book. It's also amazing to hear a person who found his place in life, found the truth he believes (though I wouldn't agree with the guest here). And finally, there are so many ideas most of us know from childhood that we almost stop paying attention to their true meaning and value (as Stace wrote in Time and Eternity: their meaning was "debased by parrot-like repetition"), but the life of this man proves that many are still working, for example it's possible to find a place where people behave, think, and say, the same thing, that happiness is not measured by the amount of money or fame you have, that happiness inside one's bubble doesn't work either, and that good behavior should be constantly practiced. Thanks for the broadcast.

Great discussion. Areas of Buddhism and Science were bridged very well during this discussion. Matthieu Ricard's thoughts and views were fascinating. Such a privilege to have had the opportunity to listen to this interview from Ireland. Thank you so much!

Love Matthieu Ricard. Read his books many times.

Why does Krista say "human beings may actually learn something?" Don't we already know?

It seems we need to point out in our world around us the sources of "antidialogic action" as in Paulo Freire. He defines very well why altruism "doesn't exist". Why is was so systematically and ubiquitously talked down using Ayn Rand in the 20th Century after the War.

Or there is poverty, inequality, violence over resources. Violence set up and "seeded" over resources. With the guns paid for clandestinely.

Or why human beings have limiting thoughts in their heads which hold them back from creating a better world they would all like.

Why the state was denigrated and is failing now.

It is all very clear. Lincoln knew. Jefferson knew. Franklin knew. They just may not have been explicit enough in their checks and balances scheme to sequester it! They may not have had adequate faith in humanity in 18th century. There was perhaps too much debate about the potential for mere citizens, so our own Supreme Court is confused, or has a license to ignore.

I don't see what human beings have to learn. We know it already and just have to move through the people in dialogue so they can free themselves from imaginary bounds. These bounds of the mind were observed by Romans in the Judean peasants and commented on in extant writings. They were not the experience of students of the Mystery Schools. Nor are they the experience of practitioners of Buddhism or other Spiritual practice today. Though, they may be the experience of Buddhists in Feudal Tibet!

We just have to all name it. Call it for what it is. And legislate against it! Because the perpetrators of "antidialogic" action are killing the planet and choking the life from all of us against every Democratic (and therefore Socratic) principle.

We have to stop treating them like they are a secret that can't be discussed. They are behind the curtain and we have been told to "pay no attention to the man..." behind it now for too long. Some of us may even have been threatened.

We need to evolve the "social construction" as Spinoza observed in 1600s we are well capable of doing, which he said is the "real expression of our divinity"!

We don't have to learn. We have to collectively act on the spiritual insights we know to be true! Let the dialogue of popular education begin!

I have been practicing mind training through meditation and studying Buddha's teaching for past 15 years at home alone with occasional retreats and mostly reading books. My sincere wish to people who get inspirations from conversations like this that Krista brings to us, would make efforts to find out in depth of Buddha's teaching. Development of your critical thought process will be worth of your time and effort. You do not have to be a monk to be in this process. There are so much resources out there. You only need to make a decision to make changes and take a first step.

The discussion of neuroplasticity gives me personal hope. As a young artist and student of composition, I often find myself very selfishly and personally involved with my work because I am working to be innovative and create something that will stand my work out among the large collection of art that has been, is being and will be produced. What this interview reminded me is that my work is interdependent on all of the work with which I am competing. My attempted innovations would not be possible except for my reliance on all of my influences and competition. What I learned in this 51 minutes is that I need to make a shift in my inspiration and work toward exercising my skill of using my passions to serve others. Serve the gamut of artistic expression with my attempted innovations and serve my audience by creating work that will aid the fostering of happiness by pitting specific circumstances as a part of a large scale and universal life and part of the journey of humanity. The reason that I chose music as my profession was that it is my own effective practice and exercise of meditation and mind training. Needless to say, I have new inspiration and circumstances after experiencing this interview!

I am enlightened in Taoism, which some zen masters in Vietnam say it is close to Buddhism. Since I reached enlightenment in 2004, I have been always happy. The unique thing to say is that I am a taoist, rare, not as many as Buddhists. Would you like to measure my brain to find out that I am also a happiest man, or the second best after Matthieu? Besides, I must say that I am not arrogant as I declare that I am nothingness, not badness nor goodness. The truth is that I rarely have negative thinking, ideas in my brain, & I, as Buddha & Lao Tzu said “love your enemies”, I practise that statement every day, every hour. My email is daosi05@yahoo.com, you may email me, chat with me to learn Taoism until you perceive enlightenment and become similar to Matthieu.

apples