Matthieu Ricard, molecular biologist, Buddhist monk, translator to the Dalai Lama, best-selling author, and photographer, spent the evening of October 16, 2009, at swissnex San Francisco for a closed, private dinner, where he spoke on Compassion in Action.
Ricard is founder of Karuna-Shechen, a charitable foundation that provides medical, social, and educational services in the Himalayan region. Brain scans done by neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin peg him as the happiest man on Earth.
Matthieu Ricard is a best-selling author, translator and photographer highly regarded for his scholarship and knowledge of Buddhism and Tibetan culture. He has lived and worked in the Himalayan region for over forty years.
Born in France in 1946, Ricard grew up among the personalities and ideas of Paris' intellectual and artistic circles.
After completing his doctoral thesis in 1972 at the Institute Pasteur under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob, Mr. Ricard decided to forsake his artistic and scientific careers and concentrate on Tibetan Buddhist studies. He lived in the Himalayas with the greatest living teachers of that tradition.
The Monk and the Philosopher, a dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, was a best seller in Europe.The Quantum and the Lotus, about science and Buddhism, was published the next year. Happiness: A Guide to Life's Most Important Skill is in its third printing. His books have been translated in over twenty languages.
His intimate knowledge and unprecedented access to Tibetan teachers and culture has enabled him to capture on camera rare and surprising moments and events. He is the author and photographer of Spirit of Tibet, Buddhist Himalayas, Tibet: An Inner Journey, Motionless Journey, and Bhutan: The Land of Serenity. He has had numerous international shows of his photography.
Henri Cartier-Bresson has said of his work, "Matthieu's spiritual life and his camera are one and from this springs these images, fleeting and eternal."
He is a major participant in the research collaboration between cognitive scientists and Buddhist practitioners, spearheaded by the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute. He received the French National Order of Merit for his humanitarian work in the East.
Ricard devotes all the proceeds of his books and much of his time to thirty humanitarian projects in the Himalayas (Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan), and to the preservation of the Tibetan cultural heritage. The charitable projects include schools, clinics, bridges, and elder care in Nepal, India, and Tibet in regions where there is little or no access to these valuable resources.
Through his writings and photographs, Matthieu Ricard infuses the dialogue between Tibetan Buddhism its culture, people and religion - and the West with understanding, intelligence and compassion.