“In 1972, Matthieu Ricard had a promising career in biochemistry, trying to figure out the secrets of E. coli bacteria. A chance encounter with Buddhism led to an about turn, and Ricard has spent the past 40+ years living in the Himalayas, studying mindfulness and happiness.”

The talk touches on leaving the modern world to seek wisdom, peace and mindfulness. We have a relationship with the world but it takes work and time and focused attention to find happiness.

He also speaks about ‘altruism’ – an especially important concept these days, when politicians tussle about making ‘commitments’ to people fleeing catastrophe but then don’t actually put the mechanism in place to get them out of their desperate plight. But it’s not everyone who can get through the eye of the government needle – it is the ‘most vulnerable’. What, there is a scale or Top Ten criteria for determining if woman and child A is more vulnerable than woman and child B? We all need reminders to stop promising and to start doing.

The YouTube video is long, but well worth the watch. Mathieu is an energetic speaker who uses humour, examples and common sense to get his points across.

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Here’s a link to a transcript of his interview with Pico Ayer.
“Standalone empathy is like a pump without water.” Too much exposure to suffering and disaster can, in fact, limit our ability to react with compassion. We have to become more aware of our reactions, the foundations for our actions, and understand why we respond as we do.