An Illusion of Freedom

By Matthieu Ricard on January 26, 2010

‟When you look closely at life in a city, you have the impression that all the facets of individuals' lives must be defined with great precision, like a screw that has to fit exactly in its hole. In one sense, you have little control over your own life. To survive, you have to follow that model and the rhythm you're provided with.” The Da...

Reincarnation is not the rebirth of a self (end)

By Matthieu Ricard on January 19, 2010

In conventional terms, we can talk about an ‟individual” consciousness, even if the individual doesn't exist as an isolated entity. The fact that there's no such discontinuous entity being transferred from one life to the next doesn't mean that there can't be a continuity of functioning and a particular history. That the self has no true ...

Reincarnation is not the rebirth of a self

By Matthieu Ricard on January 13, 2010

First of all, it's important to understand that what's called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some ‟entity” like an autonomous ‟self”. It's not a process of metempsychosis. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity of experience, it's impossible to understand the Bu...

A bird view of the Grand Prismatic

By Matthieu Ricard on January 08, 2010

Last September, I was lucky enough to be taken on a small plain, early morning above the Grand Prismatic, at the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming� A photographer's dream

Daniel Batson and the ‟Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis”

By Matthieu Ricard on December 30, 2009

During the recent preparatory meeting for the Mind and Life Institute's conference on ‟Altruism and Compassion in Economics” (to be held in Zurich in April, see, I had the chance to spend time with Daniel Batson, an eminent American psychologist, whom I had wanted to meet for many years. Daniel Batson can b...

The Short-Lived Triumph of Selfishness

By Matthieu Ricard on December 27, 2009

Imagine a ship that is sinking and needs all the available power to run the pumps to drain out the rising waters. The first-class passengers refuse to cooperate because they feel hot and want to use the air-conditioner and other electrical appliances. The second-class passengers spend all their time trying to be upgraded to first-class status...

Give Altruists a Chance

By Matthieu Ricard on December 23, 2009

Recently, while preparing the ‟Mind and Life Institute” meeting that will be held next April (, I had the opportunity to speak with the participants who will take part in this conference, including Ernst Fehr, the renowned Swiss economist. For classical economists, ‟the first principle of Economics is that every ...

Magic hours in the Himalaya

By Matthieu Ricard on December 18, 2009

This image was taken during late afternoon, in Nepal, this fall. To balance the sky and the earth, and restore why the human eye sees (but what the captor does not register because of the limitation of it's contrast range), I have used a graded neutral density filter of 3 stops (Singh Ray-Galen Rowell 3G). To do so, it is best to set the ...

Can we deprive animals of the right to live?

By Matthieu Ricard on December 11, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his notebooks: ‟The time will come when people like me will think of the murder of an animal just as they think today of the murder of a man.” And George Bernard Shaw said, ‟Animals are my friends, and I don't eat my friends.” It's not a matter of denying that there are differences in intelligence between animals an...

Environment and Altruism

By Matthieu Ricard on December 07, 2009

Recently during the course of only one day I heard these facts about the environment: 1) The Greenland glaciers are melting much faster than previously thought. This is because of the cumulated effects of the melting ice and the acceleration of the movement of the glaciers toward the sea. We know that the complete melting of the Greenland ...