The (modified) Proust Questionnaire — 1

By Matthieu Ricard on December 14, 2010

From an interview recently published in the French press.

‟What are the underlying principles of practicing meditation?”

• Give rise to an altruistic motivation: transforming oneself in order to alleviate others' suffering.

• Try to savor the freshness of the present moment, without dwelling on the past or imagining the future.

• Try to regain the inner freedom that is ever present beneath the whirlwind of wandering thoughts.

How would you define wisdom?

Wisdom is knowledge that is accompanied by unwavering happiness, loving-kindness, and compassion and that corresponds to the ultimate remedy for the suffering of all beings.

Which Western values have you held onto since you went to live in the East?

True values are universal. I strive to cultivate them as best I can. I owe my fondness for intellectual honesty to my brief Western scientific training. The values that inspire me the most are altruistic love, open-mindedness, and wisdom.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from having spent 40 years in the Himalayas?

This important lesson is that each being has within himself or herself a treasure that is just waiting to be put to good use … but that life is also short.

This treasure is both the fundamental purity that is present within our mind and the certainty that it is possible to eradicate hatred, craving, selfish attachment, arrogance, jealousy, and, first and foremost, ignorance.

(to be continued)