What does reality mean?

By Matthieu Ricard on August 02, 2009

In Buddhism the word reality connotes the true nature of things, unmodified by mental constructs superimposed upon them. Fabricated concepts open up a gap between our perception and reality, and create a never-ending conflict with the world. ‟We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore. We take for perman...

Not identifying with our suffering

By Matthieu Ricard on July 24, 2009

We usually identify completely with our suffering and become one with it. Yet, even when they torment us the most, we are not our suffering in the same way that we are not the sickness when afflicted by some ailment. To achieve fulfillment in this life, it is most important to understand that suffering is an illness that affects us all t...

On the death penalty

By Matthieu Ricard on July 16, 2009

In December 2006, Florida governor Jeb Bush temporarily stayed executions because it took twenty minutes for a death row inmate to succumb to a lethal injection that was supposed to kill him in four. He stated that he had acted out of humanity. I see no humanity in taking four minutes to kill someone instead of twenty. We cannot pretend t...

Wise optimism

By Matthieu Ricard on July 09, 2009

When hearing a door creak, the optimist thinks it's opening and the pessimist thinks it's closing. For an optimist, it makes no sense to lose hope. We can always do better, limit the damage, find an alternative solution, rebuild what has been destroyed, take the current situation as a starting point, and use every present moment to advanc...

True beauty

By Matthieu Ricard on June 26, 2009

True beauty conforms to mankind's deep nature. Love and altruism are beautiful, while hatred and jealousy are ugly. Just look at the way the former beautifies a face, while the latter disfigures it.  True beauty is in harmony with wisdom and compassion. When we meet a remarkable, radiant human being, we intuitively know that we are in the pre...

Sources of Inspiration

By Matthieu Ricard on June 20, 2009

‟Happiest are the people who give most happiness to others.” Denis Diderot ‟Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” Gandhi ‟Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money”...

On forgiveness (continued)

By Matthieu Ricard on June 14, 2009

By asking forgiveness, the criminal cannot hope to escape the consequences of his deeds, the gravity of his actions or the atrocity of his crime. Perhaps a truly repentant criminal should not even ask for forgiveness: having realized the depth of his crime, his main efforts should be to try, humbly but to the full extent of his abilities, to ...

On forgiveness

By Matthieu Ricard on June 10, 2009

From a Buddhist perspective, at a personal level forgiveness is always possible and one should always forgive. Although many claim that one has no right to forgive harm that has been done to others, one must consider forgiving in terms of the well-being of society. Society does not need the kind of forgiving that goes with lack of concern, le...

Flying monks

By Matthieu Ricard on May 30, 2009

This image of seven Tibetan and Bhutanese Buddhist monks jumping on the beach in front of the ocean was taken in France, at Dieppe, on a bright winter morning in 1997. This image is an original slide; it is not a multiple exposure and no tricks were employed. It is simply a single exposure of seven monks jumping for joy and, contrary to mos...

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...