Is Buddhism a Religion?

By Matthieu Ricard on May 28, 2009

That's a question the Dalai Lama's frequently asked. His usual reply is to joke, ‟Poor Buddhism! Rejected by religions as an atheistic philosophy, a science of the mind; and by philosophers as a religion—there's nowhere that Buddhism has citizen's rights. But perhaps that's an advantage that could allow Buddhism to build bridges between relig...

The Third Pole

By Matthieu Ricard on May 19, 2009

Chinese climatologists have called the Himalayan glaciers and other major mountains located in the Tibetan plateau the ‟third pole” of our ailing planet. Why? There are 40,000 large and small glaciers on the Tibetan plateau and this area is melting at a rate three to four times faster than the North and South Poles. The melting is particularl...

The impact of the emotions

By Matthieu Ricard on May 15, 2009

The easiest way to distinguish between our emotions is to examine their motivation (mental attitude and objective) and their results. If an emotion strengthens our inner peace and seeks the good of others, it is positive, or constructive; if it shatters our serenity, deeply disturbs our mind and is intended to harm others, it is negative, or ...

Empathy and the Cultivation of Compassion

By Matthieu Ricard on May 04, 2009

Empathy is to feel what others are experiencing and to resonate with them. When we meet someone filled with joy, we also experience joy. The same applies to suffering; though empathy we experience the suffering that another person is going through. Experientially, these empathic feelings are similar to real joy and real suffering. Therefore, ...

A Sniper's "Mindfulness"

By Matthieu Ricard on April 28, 2009

Is mindfulness wholesome in and of itself? An inspiring meeting convened by the Mind and Life Institute between the Dalai Lama and a group of distinguished scientists and scholars recently was held in Dharamsala, India. Rupert Gethin, an eminent scholar of the Theravada and Pali tradition of Buddhism, expressed the opinion that mind...

Attention and Emotions

By Matthieu Ricard on April 25, 2009

Attention is a quality that is indispensable to the attainment of our goals, whether they are oriented to the world and others, or focused inwardly to self- transformation. When attention is focused, directed, free from bias, and sharpened by penetrating insight and logical investigation, it will help to ascertain reality correctly.  When att...

Daily spiritual practice

By Matthieu Ricard on April 23, 2009

Spiritual practice can be enormously bene?cial. The fact is, it is possible to undergo genuine spiritual training by devoting some time every day to meditation. More people than you might think do so, while leading regular family lives and doing absorbing work. The positive bene?ts of such a life far outweigh the few problems of schedule arra...

Cultivating altruism

By Matthieu Ricard on April 21, 2009

Usually, we all experience thoughts of loving kindness, generosity, inner peace and freedom from conflicts. But these thoughts are fleeting and will soon be replaced by other thoughts, including afflictive ones such as anger and jealousy. To fully integrate altruism and compassion in our midstream, we need to do more than that. We need to cul...

Happiness and Reality

By Matthieu Ricard on April 20, 2009

Happiness is, to begin with, a love of life. To have lost all reason for living is to open up an abyss of suffering. As important as external conditions may be, suffering, like well-being, is essentially an state of mind. Understanding that is the key prerequisite to a life worth living. What mental conditions will sap our joie de vivre, and ...

True patience

By Matthieu Ricard on April 11, 2009

True patience isn't a sign of weakness, but of courage. It certainly doesn't mean to let everything happen passively. Patience gives you the capacity to act correctly without being blinded by hatred and a thirst for revenge, which deprive you of any capacity for judgment. As the Dalai Lama often says, true tolerance isn't a question of saying...