Spirituality and Life Philosophy 1

By Matthieu Ricard on March 10, 2013

During the conference on ‟Change Yourself, Change the World”, organized by Emergences in Brussels last September, Pierre Rabhi, a French thinker and pioneer in organic farming, and Matthieu Ricard discussed their views on life. Here is a selection of their answers to questions from this dialogue. You can find photos of these talks in a documentary on Pierre Rabhi that is part of the ‟Empreintes” TV series (available in French to be aired by France 5 in the beginning of 2013.

Q: Are both of you… Rhabi, the Algerian living in Ardèche, in France, and Matthieu Ricard, the French Tibetan Buddhist monk…. without roots ?

Pierre Rabhi : For my part, for a long time I felt like I was in exile. I was excluded from Islam and from my own European family, and I found myself with no place to call my own, wandering for a long time. I became a man without a country, and had to create my own country. I finally felt ‟at home” when I bought a rocky piece of land in Ardèche. It is a tiny bit of land on the world scale, but this land I loved gave me roots.
Matthieu Ricard : My experience is different, I never felt without roots; on the contrary, I feel like I possess my own roots. I have no house and no land; I live in a retreat cabin that does not belong to me and where I shall probably spend my last days. If I am at home there it is because I find myself at the heart of what occupies me there. But my real roots are my spiritual teachers; they are with me wherever I go. It's another life choice, just a different one. I prefer not to leave a trace.

Q: Two different paths, but with converging points?

Pierre : We are brothers in conscience. We must transcend our ties that in the end divide us and we must develop a sociology of consciences, more than a sociology of where we come from.
Matthieu : What unites us is our shared humanity. As the Dalai Lama likes to remind us, he is first and foremost a human being. He is then a Tibetan, then a Buddhist monk, and only on the fourth level is he the Dalia Lama, which, he says, has little importance. We speak with different words, but it seems that we share the same feelings. What counts is to serve, to share ideas for a better world. The future is in the hands of altruistic people willing to cooperate. If a sufficient number of similar approaches can create a critical mass, then at one point there may be a tipping point that will trigger a cultural change in society, towards deeper solidarity and benevolence.

Excerpts from scenes taken by Vincent Feragus for a documentary that is part of the ‟Empreintes” collection (available in French), edited by Pascal Greboval and Lucile Vannier.