Altruism Forum

By Matthieu Ricard on March 14, 2010

In April, 2010, we will begin a forum dedicated to the promotion of a more altruistic society.

In this day and age we face many challenges. In particular, it is especially difficult to reconcile three different time scales: the short-term scope related to the economy, the medium-term outlook concerning life satisfaction, and the long-term view regarding the environment. There is, nonetheless, a common thread that naturally binds them together and harmonizes their seeming discrepancies. This common thread is altruism.

If we would have greater regard for others, we would not indulge in wild speculations; instead, we would seek to improve working conditions, family life, our means of transportation, and many other aspects of our lives, including our spiritual life, and we would not sacrifice so heedlessly this very world that we will have to hand down to future generations.

For this reason, altruism can no longer be thought of as merely a noble yet naïve ideal, for it is now, more than ever before, a necessity. We must have the courage to acknowledge this and say it.

How can altruism be fostered within our societies? What are the main obstacles that stand in the way of this task? Does authentic altruism exist and can we cultivate it? These are the main questions we shall be discussing.