Spirituality and Life Philosophy 2

By Matthieu Ricard on March 19, 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.

What is the most indispensable change needed for our world today?

Matthieu : I think we have to stop our race for always having more. The crisis we are currently going through is linked to that.
We put so much effort into things that are not really important. Many people struggle at a job that they feel is of little use to themselves or humanity. It is important to seek simplicity, to try to find happiness and fulfillment without always needing more. In Europe and North America, 30% of all food and medicine produced is thrown away!
Pierre : Matthieu is right, there is no limit to the constant feeling of wanting more. The acceleration that international trade creates actually puts us in opposition to the logic of peace. It is a social fragmentation bomb.

So, our world is now very violent ?

Pierre : Our world is full of violence. This violence is not only a question of hitting one another. It is surprising that killing one person is a crime while killing one hundred is an honor.
Violence exists in other ways too: world hunger is an incredible form of violence committed by those who are fed against those who have nothing. It is untenable that we exploit and keep hungry so-called developing countries, while at the same time taking from them more that they can give us. Likewise, the way we treat animals, putting them in what amounts to concentration camps, is another form of violence.
Matthieu : Yes we can clearly speak of concentration camps where slaughterhouses are concerned and, as a matter of fact, concentration camp survivors have themselves made this comparison. Gandhi said that a civilization can be judged by the way it treats its animals.
The fundamental aspiration of all human beings is to avoid suffering. Where violence between humans is concerned we have to remember that often war is done by people who don't know each other but kill each other, for people who know each other but don't kill each other.

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.