Matthieu Ricard

Get to know Matthieu Ricard

Who is Matthieu Ricard?

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who works as a translator, a photographer and a writer. Ricard was a scientist before deciding to enter a monastery, having gained a doctorate in molecular genetics from the Pasteur Institute in the early 1970s. Soon after he was awarded his PhD, Ricard decided to forsake his life as a geneticist and practice Tibetan Buddhism instead. Ricard is a member of Vajrayana school of Buddhism after travelling to India where he met and studied under Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Much of Ricard's written work has focussed on the brain and the long-term effect that meditation can have on it. He is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, an organisation that is set up to provide a collaborative framework for research that scientists, Buddhist scholars and meditators can all take part in. As a keen meditator himself, Ricard is known to practise three forms of meditation - compassion, open awareness and analytic. He also advocates solitary meditation sessions, and he goes about this in his own remote hut.

 Where does Matthieu Ricard live?

Matthieu Ricard was born in Aix-les-Bains in the French department of Savoie. These days, he resides at the Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery, located in Nepal. The monastery had previously been located in Tibet until it relocated to Nepal following the Cultural Revolution that swept through China in the 1950s. Ricard's photography of his adopted homeland has been used in numerous publications over the years.

Is Matthieu Ricard vegan?

Yes, Matthieu Ricard is a committed vegan. The monk has spent years advocating for animal welfare issues and encouraging more people to become vegetarian. 'A Plea for Animals', a book he wrote that was published in 2016, goes into more detail about his ideas on veganism and animal rights.

How has Matthieu Ricard been recognised internationally?

The French National Order of Merit is the most distinguished award that Matthieu Ricard has won. It was given to him in recognition of his humanitarian work in Asia. Much of the proceeds from his work goes into humanitarian projects in Nepal and elsewhere. Ricard has also made a global impact outside of his homeland and adopted country. For example, he has worked with the World Happiness Forum, the United Nations and the Global Economic Symposium.

Which books offer the best insight into Matthieu Ricard?

'The Spirit of Tibet: The Life and World of Khyentse Rinpoche, Spiritual Teacher,' is a publication of 2001 which deals with many of the things Matthieu Ricard learned during his spiritual awakening. 'Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion' of 2015 deals with some of Ricard's forthright views on economics. His translation of 'The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most' is another work that he has been widely praised for.

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In the past, any definition of spirituality would have been very tightly correlated with certain religious beliefs that focus on the godliness or spirit within people. In other words, spiritual people would have been seen as devout, pious and concentrated more on sacred or metaphysical matters than earthly ones. These days, however, a more extensive definition of spirituality is accepted, which includes broader traditions that lead to personal growth. Examples of this could be, the sort of inner journey that many people take from meditative practices and non-religious activities like transcendentalism and perennial philosophy.
Meditation refers to a variety of mental exercises which have their origin in ancient times and became increasingly popular in the western world over the last decades. While meditating, we practice different kinds of focus to achieve a more mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Meditative practices were developed as part of the path towards enlightenment, self-realisation and the end of suffering. There are various types of meditation, such as focused attention, or mindfulness meditation, which is the most widely studied form of meditation in modern science. Metta or loving-kindness meditation is another example of focused attention. Other forms of meditation are the chanting of mantras or transcendental meditation.
Concerned with the welfare of all animals, other than human-beings, animal welfare is a political and social movement that started as early as the seventeenth century. In 1822, a bill was brought before the UK parliament that was concerned with the treatment of cattle – the first animal welfare legislation of its kind in the world despite some safeguards that had been brought in by the people of Massachusetts over a century before. Societies like the RSPCA sprang up in the UK which aimed to protect animals and to campaign for greater protections for them. These days, animal welfare tends to be concerned with farmed livestock, animals which are used in scientific research, zoo creatures, pets and circus as well as other working animals. Some people also include wild animals, too. Several successful campaigns have been staged which have highlighted issues of animal abuse in all of these areas. Today, many people will only buy meat from sources which have a high animal welfare reputation that is independently assessed.
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