THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD
If there is a universal desire among all humans, it is to be happy, apart from coveting large sums of money and fame, some will say. But the latter are for those who do not know what really matters in life.
Matthieu Ricard has understood it very well, that’s the reason he bears the title (for me the most sublime one could wish for) of “happiest man on Earth”. And his “trick” seems easy and is to “not get attached to things and do good to others. “
Son of the renowned French philosopher Jean-François Revel and the artist Yahne Le Toumelin, he received his doctorate in cell genetics from the Pasteur Institute. Later he decided to retire as a Buddhist monk towards a life of contemplation and altruism practicing Tibetan Buddhism in the Himalayas where he has lived for more than 40 years.
Today he is 75 years old and is also a Buddhist monk, author, photographer and translator. He also makes scientific contributions as a member of the Mind and Life Institute and serves as aFrench interpreter to the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso.
He donates all his profits (books, photographs and events) to the humanitarian association founded by him 20 years ago, Karuna-Shechen, which develops more than 250 humanitarian, educational, medical and social projects aimed at the neediest populations of the India, Nepal and Tibet, assisting more than 300,000 people.
He was a disciple of the master Dangyur Rinpoche , with him he learned the ancestral teachings of the ancient Nyingma Buddhist school and tradition (unlike other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, they do not have a lineage leader or official hierarch, but a representative for events). Later he would be a close disciple of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Today he resides in the Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal.
A HARD RECORD TO BEAT
Perhaps someone feels able to challenge this peculiar title of “happiest man in the world”, but I note that although it seems simple, I also suspect that it requires a lot of training, study and will. So at least I will settle for the moment for being a humble inexperienced pupil willing to listen carefully and learn.
Our exceptional teacher in this article, Matthieu Ricard subtracted his brain for a neuroscientific study at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 5, 2008.
The objective was to determine what are the effects of meditation on the brain. To do so, they studied the brain activity of the volunteers, including 15 Buddhist monks who were great meditation professionals, including Matthieu Ricard.
The experiment was to record the brain activity in areas associated with positive emotions and observe if they were detected levels of stress, irritability, anger, pleasure or satisfaction. To do this, they placed 128 channel geodesic sensor on the skulls of the volunteers and did an fMRI nuclear magnetic resonance with which they captured images of brain activity.
The scale ranges from + 0.3 (unhappy level) to – 0.3 (the latter considered a state of maximum bliss). Matthieu Ricard achieved results of – 0.45, a higher level never reached before by any other human being . He achieved the highest level of activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with positive emotions.
“ It happens that in neurosciences, when one generates a certain state of mind that may not be happiness but compassion or loving kindness, that triggers brain waves that in my case were of an amplitude that had never been recorded in neuroscience. But it is not just about me, it can happen to anyone who has meditated for many years and who has done between 20 and 50 thousand hours of meditation. “
HAPPINESS: AN UNREACHABLE UTOPIA?
Matthieu Ricard’s message is clear and inescapable: it is possible to be happy. But it requires determination, something that not everyone is willing to strive for, because it seems more comfortable and less work tostay in our well-known and usual comfort zone, and settle.
“ Parisian intellectuals don’t like happiness very much. But then the audience says: “That’s wrong, we want to be happy!” (laughs) Who gets up in the morning and says “I want to suffer all day”? Basically, some people don’t see how to cultivate the skills that are needed for happiness. They require some effort and some prefer not to. So it is easier to say “there is no such thing as happiness.” Or “it’s okay to be bored, stressed, life is like that, more colorful.” It’s like going to a nice place in the middle of nature and saying “I miss the traffic jams”, “I miss the hospital emergency room”. No, of course not!”.
THE SECRET TO BE HAPPY
MEDITATION HELPS YOU BE HAPPY
” Happiness is a skill and everyone can adopt it. The meditation will help. Achieve well-being despite daily difficulties. “
Apparently one of the most helpful tricks is to be altruistic. And also the meditation, which helps you to get overthe fears, traumas, prejudices and additions, ie it helps and teaches you how to overcome all obstacles that may prevent you from being happy.
” The meditation helps you get your inner resources to cope with the ups and downs of life. With it you are less vulnerable, less insecure. So you know, no matter what happens, you will be fine. Even in the face of small storms or difficulties. “
Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on the type of thoughts that lurk inside it. That is why it is important not to depend on it, and to free the mind.
“You have a mind and you have to deal with it from morning to night. That mind can create a lot of problems for you, but it can also give you a lot of satisfaction and happiness. In the same way that we take care of our physical health and our physical appearance, why not take care of our mind, which can sometimes be our best friend and sometimes our worst enemy? If everything seems to look good on the outside even though your mind is totally depressed then you will not enjoy anything. But if your mind is balanced, strong, free, even facing some difficulty, you will not be so weak or easy to destabilize. So it is crucial to deal with our own minds. “
Achieving emotional independence is possible and important, but you have to train yourself to acquire some control over your emotions. Knowing and understanding the mechanisms of the functioning of the mind will allow you to know why certain emotions prevent you frombeing happy and you will notice that it is more intelligent and useful to control, limit and separate them. You will understand what they are and why those habitual tendencies to have negative thoughts, jealousy, anxieties, frustrations occur. Not being a slave to your mind will allow you to be free and will give you the possibility of being happy.
“If you live your life in a more balanced and less stressful way, you still have to pay your bills, take care of your children and do everything but with more resilience, with more strength, with more freedom. But in this way we are not so slaves to all those conditions. Doing the same but with a mind more balanced and happier with another mental outlook. And that makes a big difference at the end of the day, especially when it comes to stress. But it doesn’t mean that because you meditate you are going to stop paying your bills! “
Inner freedom is achieved with detachment. Buddha said that what creates frustration is expectation. The desire to achieve material things, prominence and recognition. However, according to experts “in being happy”, peace of mind is achieved when you are not attached to things, when you do not seek a self-centered interest.
According to Matthieu Ricard the material things become something you tie yourself with, you get caught and they will not let you be free. They are not really needed as much as society would have us to believe. And certainly not needed to achieve happiness. Our teacher grieves onlythe injustice social, the discrimination, the exploitation human and animals, and everything that is helping others is what really brings happiness.
” I can enjoy a certain kind of freedom because I have the ability to decide the direction of my own life, which I think is a very good thing.”
WELLNESS IS THE LINK WITH OTHERS
“ If you feel less vulnerable you are more open to others. So the relationship with others improves and that is something huge to have less stress, less anger, less resentment. Having a naturally good relationship with others is a great asset in this life. “
The emotional independence will allow you to be less vulnerable, and this state will make you feel better, safer and therefore you don’t feel uncomfortable or threatened when you’re with other people. You will feel naturally more open to others, and then you can take advantage of the wellness that contributes to share with others kindness and sensitivity, understanding and sincere interest, consideration and respect, the resources and knowledge. Sharing offers you the emotion of feeling joyful for having done good and gives you that satisfaction of what some call bliss.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION: TWO VERY DIFFERENT WORLDS AND A BRIDGE TO JOIN THEM
“Science is a rigorous approach to reality. And one of the goals of Buddhism is to approximate the gap between appearance and reality and to investigate how the mind works, to investigate states of suffering and happiness. “
WHAT IS HAPPINESS
Matthieu Ricard proposes happiness as an “aptitude” for life. A way of seeing and living life that is unusual in our society, but that according to him is a wise and intelligent way to give meaning, value and well-being to our existence. It’s one way of being and feeling the stimuli that impact us in a way more beneficial or convenient.
” Happiness should not be confused with endless succession of pleasant episodes. That is the recipe for exhaustion, not for happiness (laughs). Happiness is a way of being, it is a way of being that comes with the cultivation of a number of human qualities, which are the same: inner freedom, inner peace, inner strength, kindness, compassion. If you cultivate that through your life experience and make it possible through mental training, then you achieve a way of being that is healthier. And, again, that gives you the tools to deal with the ups and downs of life. “
TEACH TO BE HAPPY
The objectives and methods of education are focused in the wrong way, it does not provide the necessary instruments to train people with a free mind, an essential condition to understand what is best for you and therefore choose to train to be happy. The society is forming people incapable of being happy, slaves of emotions, desires and claims imposed as required by a society that uses deception and fraud.
“How about we cultivate human qualities instead of being first in math, first in this or that? What do parents expect from their children? That they are happy, balanced, good people in the family, good people in society? And what do we teach them? To solve mathematical equations, to collect as much information as possible. Of course all that is useful! But, in the end, what you want is for education to produce a good person, a good and happy person. This nowadays is not the main focus of education and it should be. “
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