Matthieu Ricard Biography

Matthieu Ricard has lived in the Himalayan region for the last thirty-five years. Born in France in 1946, he grew up among the personalities and ideas of Paris’ intellectual and artistic circles. He studied classical music, ornithology and photography and worked for his Ph-D degree in molecular genetics at the Institute Pasteur under the Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob.

After completing his doctoral thesis in 1972, he decided to forsake his scientific career and concentrate on Tibetan Buddhist contemplative practice. Since then, he has lived in India, Bhutan and Nepal with the greatest living teachers of that tradition and became the disciple and attendant of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (one of the most eminent Tibetan masters of our times). Matthieu is a Buddhist monk and, since 1989, he has acted as the French interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

He is the author of several best selling books including The Monk and the Philosopher (Schocken, 1999), a book of dialogues with his father, the French philosopher Jean-François Revel, which has been translated into twenty-one languages; The Quantum and the Lotus (Crown, 2002) a dialogue with the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan and, recently, Happiness, A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill (Little, Brown and Co, New York; Atlantic Press, London). When he was twenty, he wrote the widely read book Animal Migrations (Hill and Wang, 1969).

For the nearly four decades, he has been photographing the spiritual masters, the landscapes and the people of the Himalayas and has published several albums including Buddhist Himalayas (Harry Abrams, 2002), Journey to Enlightenment (Aperture, 1996 – The Spirit of Tibet in paperback, Aperture 2001), Monk Dancers of Tibet (Shambhala, 2003), Tibet (Thames and Hudson, 2006) and Motionless Journey (Thames and Hudson, 2007). Henri Cartier-Bresson has said of his work, “Matthieu’s spiritual life and his camera are one, from which springs these images, fleeting and eternal.”

A board member of the Mind and Life Institute, which is devoted to meetings and collaborative research between scientists and Buddhist scholars and meditators, his contributions have appeared in Working with Destructive Emotions (edited by Daniel Goleman) The Dalai Lama at M.I.T (edited by A. Harrington and A. Zajonc), Train Your Mind, Change your Brain (Sharon Begley) and other books of essays.

He is engaged in the research on the effect of mind training and meditation on the brain, at Madison-Wisconsin, Princeton, Harvard, and Berkeley Universities and is the co-author of a ground breaking scientific paper published by the PNAS (Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, in the USA in September 2004). He holds regular meetings with neuroscientists, psychologists (positive psychology) and therapists (cognitive therapy). He is particularly interested in promoting the concept of Gross National Happiness.

He also translated several books from Tibetan into English and French, including – The Life of Shabkar, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin (Snow Lion), The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones (Shambhala Publication), One Hundred Verses of Advice (Shambhala) and The Heart of Compassion (Shambhala). He was the cinematographer and scriptwriter for the video, The Spirit of Tibet, National Film Board of Canada.

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