Matthieu Ricard: "Create a haven of peace at home, to breathe outside and inside"

Matthieu Ricard: "Create a haven of peace at home, to breathe outside and inside"

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Author, scientist, photographer and Buddhist monk established in Nepal, Matthieu Ricard was in Paris on April 27 to present his latest work, Hymn to beauty / An Ode to Beauty (YellowKorner / La Martinière co-edition). With more than 180 photographs, this collection combines portraits of great spiritual masters, smiling faces of children, a Tibetan monastery emerging from the mist like a painting, magnificent mountain landscapes and stormy skies. This book is a magnificent testimony to the author's commitment to the peoples of the Himalayas, and his sensitivity for nature. Meditation, well-being, home furnishings ... Matthieu Ricard answered our questions with generosity and great availability.

Matthieu Ricard, you present today Hymn to beauty / An Ode to Beauty . What does this book represent for you?

A tribute to my Tibetan masters Kangyour Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche, whose photo is in the mosaic below, note, but also the reason why I lived 50 years in the Himalayas: it was to be near of these masters. Being alongside these and also making their portrait to share the inner beauty, wisdom, compassion of these masters, I necessarily plunged into their world, and that of all those who live in these regions, who live around of them, peasants, nomads ...

You talk about your meditation experience and its benefits, especially in the book The Art of Meditation (NiL Editions, 2008).

I share what I have heard from my masters, trying to make it available to everyone.

Do you think there is an ideal place to meditate?

Ideally, one can practice meditation everywhere, in all circumstances, in all places, whether there is noise or no noise. When you are faced with a mountain landscape, meditation is both outside and inside. In traffic jams, meditation can only be done indoors. For a beginner, what we are all from a certain point of view, it is a question of finding a place conducive to meditation even if one cannot go to the Himalayas, facing a mountain See l 'self-portrait of Matthieu Ricard, in full meditation in front of the Jomolhari glacier, in Bhutan, May 2007, Editor's note. A place at home where you are quiet, without your phone! A place where for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes… we know that the main occupation will be to train our spirit, to become familiar with selfless love, with benevolent mindfulness. So you must first train in suitable places, and once you have acquired more expertise, inner strength, inner freedom, you can use your skills to maintain this attitude at all times. Like these riders capable of bending over to pick up something on the ground in full gallop, this is the result of training.

Do you have any advice to give us to create a more serene interior, at home?

We are all caught up in distraction. We need a haven of tranquility. In the East, we reserve a room in the house to install a small temple, and there is no television! In all families in Bhutan, Tibet, Laos, it is a room of the house, quite noble, located at the top, which is dedicated to a small temple. There, we are in silence, we sit down to meditate, to make offerings, we do nothing else. Even if you are not a Buddhist (it is not a question of imposing a religion!), You must have a place, a haven of peace somewhere in the house, which evokes serenity, to breathe a little , externally and internally. This is important when you know that in Europe, people watch an average of 3 and a half hours of television per day: this represents a full year every 7 years, that's a lot! You are never left on your own, your mind is constantly challenged, your mind is stolen from you at all times. 60% of television programs contain images of violence, and 70% of children's programs. It is unacceptable. Hundreds of studies have shown that this increases children's aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, immediately and a few years later. This is very serious.

Children, do you think it is possible to make them meditate?

In the East, where the atmosphere is much more focused on this kind of activity, children "meditate" out of imitation. In the West where life is hectic, in schools in the United States, England, France (with us, they are still rare, but it will come), children meditate 5 minutes at the start of the class on a flower, a small pebble. The children are lying down, with their teddy bear, watching their chest go up and down. We teach them to cooperate, to open up to others. All the educators agree that this brings a much better quality during the class, that the children are more attentive afterwards. It is an excellent thing, it is part of a whole which one could call "training of the spirit". It's a fun way to learn. You shouldn't coerce them in any way, kids have to feel that way; they are also very happy.

Is it possible to reproduce this at home?

When their parents quarreled, it happened that children who benefited from these minutes of meditation said to them: "At school, we are taught this and that to control our emotions". It is the children who become the educators. It's interesting !

We regularly talk about feng shui in the newsroom. Is it important to you?

It has another name in Tibetan. We do it mainly to choose the location of a monastery, a hermitage, a stupa ... The objective is not prosperity (contrary to what people who make feng shui in Hong Kong are looking for example). We study the topology of places according to the influences it can have, always for a spiritual purpose, related to pacification, fulfillment and the removal of obstacles on this spiritual path. The characteristics of the place, the orientation, the layout of the landscape that you see in front of you, the position of the rising sun, of the setting sun ... All this matters. There are treaties in Tibetan, always linked to spiritual considerations. Inside, it is rather what will promote tranquility, peace.

One last question: what are the objects that you never part with?

There is few of it. I have two sets of clothes, a computer that I would happily do without, books of Buddhist texts, objects blessed by my masters, a camera and lenses. I could carry it all in a small backpack and go into the unknown!

Learn more:

Hymn to beauty / An Ode to Beauty Texts and photographs: Matthieu Ricard YellowKorner-La Martinière Coedition, 200 pages, 25 euros Matthieu Ricard's book and photos are on sale in the YellowKorner galleries and on
  • Earthquake in Nepal: Matthieu Ricard's appeal for donations

  • Founded in 2000 by Matthieu Ricard, the Karuna-Shechen association works with the poorest populations in the Himalayas in Nepal, Tibet, and northern India. Construction of primary and secondary schools, creation of clinics and dispensaries ... these are more than a hundred humanitarian projects that the association has developed in the fields of education and access to care. Following the earthquakes in Nepal at the end of April 2015, all donations received by Karuna-Shechen until May 31 will be used to help the victims of the earthquake. To make a donation, visit the association's website: For each donation made, YellowKorner agrees to donate the same amount.