“The Happiest Man in the World”

Last Thursday night, my wife and I attended a fund raising event for the American Himalayan Foundation with guest speaker, Matthieu Ricard, “The happiest man in the world!” Matthieu Ricard has a PhD in biochemistry and became a monk in the Tibetan tradition shortly after receiving it. He is also a humanitarian, advocating altruism and compassion for all life forms and the planet. Matthieu is a best-selling author, photographer, and translator for the Dalai Lama as well. Scientists, such as Richie Davidson and other have labeled him “The Happiest Man in the World” because of his abilities in meditation and his altruism efforts.

Over the past years, his charity, Karuna-Shechen, he is providing education and medical resources to the impoverished people in Northern India, Nepal and Tibet. They also build schools and help prevent Nepalese girls from being dragged into human trafficking. I admire him endlessly.

His talk last night was about the same insights that are taught by my teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: altruism, compassion, wisdom, and the interconnectedness (interbeing) of all things and all life forms. His talk was accompanied by his own photographs of people, landscapes, schools, and nature. He said, “Altruism is the most pragmatic answer to the challenges of our times,” and listed what we can do in the short term, mid term and long term.

In the short term, we should focus on caring economics to help people in need. He spoke about poverty in the midst of plenty. Later, he said that there is nothing wrong with having money if you give it away gracefully! In the mid term, he advocated for social justice, reduction of inequities and facing the pursuit of happiness. In the long term, he said that we must care for future generations, the eight million other species and for our planet. We are exhausting the plant’s resources as if they were unlimited. He went on to elaborate about these three ways of meeting the challenges facing us as a species and then talked about altruism research and showed photographs of the people and places where Karuna-Sechen did their work.

The photographs in the above slide show were shot with my iPhone a some distance from the big screen. In this case, the message is in the media and the quality is poor at best.


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