The world’s happiest man

Tibetan Monk Matthieu Ricard, dubbed “The World’s Happiest Man”

Matthieu Ricard, son of French philosopher Jean-François Revel and well-known French artist and Tibetan Buddhist nun Yahne le Toumelin, is himself a Tibetan Buddhist monk, as well as an author, translator, photographer, and humanitarian.

After completing his doctoral thesis in cell genetics in 1972, Dr. Ricard made the decision to forsake his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He moved to the Himalayas and studied with several great masters of that tradition.

He went on to become the close student and attendant of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the greatest masters of Tibetan Buddhism, for the final fourteen years of his life until his death in 1991. Since then, Dr. Ricard has dedicated his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision.

He is also, incidentally, known as “The World’s Happiest Man.”

This is a reblog of an article written by Rachel Nuwer and published in 2012 in the online “Smithsonian”:


Matthieu Ricard 3Matthieu Ricard, a 66[sic]-year-old Tibetan monk and geneticist, produces brain gamma waves (linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory) never before reported in neuroscience, leading researchers to conclude that Ricard is the world’s happiest man.

The secret to his success in achieving bliss?

Meditation, he claims.

“Meditating is like lifting weights or exercising for the mind,” Ricard told the Daily News. “Anyone can be happy by simply training their brain,” he says.

To quantify just how happy Ricard is, neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin attached 256 sensors to the monk’s skull.

To go with Nepal-France-religion-Buddhism-philosophy,FEATURE by Frankie Taggart In this handout photograph released by the University of Wisconsin-Madison on September 29, 2012, technician Andy Francis (L) and associate scientist and co-principal investigator Antoine Lutz (R) outfit Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard (seated) with a 128-channel geodesic sensor net in preparation for conducting an electroencephalography (EEG) test at the EEG facility in the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison on June 5, 2008. As he grins serenely and his burgundy robes billow in the fresh Himalayan wind, it is not difficult to see why scientists declared Matthieu Ricard the happiest man they had ever tested. AFP PHOTO / JEFF MILLER / UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON ----EDITORS NOTE---- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT
Technician Andy Francis (L) and associate scientist and co-principal investigator Antoine Lutz (R) outfit Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard (seated) with a 128-channel geodesic sensor net in preparation for conducting an electroencephalography (EEG) test at the EEG facility in the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison on June 5, 2008.

When he meditated on compassion, the researchers
were shocked to see that Ricard’s brain produces a level of gamma waves that is off the charts.

He also demonstrated excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, meaning he has an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, the researchers say.

During the same study, the Ricard EEG while meditating - 2008neuroscientists also peeked into the minds of other monks.

They found that long-term practitioners—those who have engaged in more than 50,000 rounds of meditation—showed significant changes in their brain function, and even those with only three weeks of 20-minute meditation per day also demonstrated some change.

To spread the word on achieving happiness and enlightenment, Ricard authored Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. Proceeds from the book go towards over 100 humanitarian projects.

“Try sincerely to check, to investigate,” he explained to the Daily News. “That’s what Buddhism has been trying to unravel — the mechanism of happiness and suffering.  It is a science of the mind.”


Published in 2012 in Smithsonian.com

This post may possibly be the introduction to a following two-part article entitled The Path from Personal Transformation to Societal Change, by Matthieu Ricard Rinpoche.

Namaste,
Susannah

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3 Comments

  1. I’ve liked Matthieu Ricard for a long time. I bought his book “Happiness: A guide to developing life’s most important skill”. I think that it is great that you are posting this. It would be lovely if there are people out there who read your post and decide to read or watch some of his teaching. Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Matthieu Ricard is one of the folks on my personal hero list, especially since he’s carrying on Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche’s work. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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