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Lions Roar : July 2015
trust goes hand in hand with a very low level of corruption. As with anything, wealth can be destructive or constructive. It can provide a powerful way of doing good for others, but it can also drive us to wrong others. What can you do with four billion dollars that you cannot do with two? Very little for yourself, but a great deal for others. Even if your own needs are largely satisfied, many people are in desperate need of help. Jules Renard, the acerbic and somewhat pessimistic writer, was only too right when he exclaimed: “If money doesn’t make you happy, give it away ” He might have added: “And you will be satisfied.” Indeed it is proven that giving is better for you emo- tionally than receiving. This has been demonstrated in research carried out by the Canadian psychologist Elizabeth Dunn when she compared the level of well-being among people who had spent money on themselves with those who had spent it on other people: “We found that people who reported spending more money on others were happier.” This phenomenon has been noted both in large-scale philanthropy and small five- dollar donations, thanks to a study carried out in 136 coun- tries, where each time an average of 1,300 people have been investigated. There is therefore a very poor correlation between money and happiness, which can, according to Dunn and fellow psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, in part be explained by the way in which people spend their money. Leaning on quantitative research, they suggest that, in order to find happiness, compulsive consumers would be better off pursuing experiences rather than material goods, use their money to benefit others instead of themselves, cease compar- ing themselves to others on a material level (which only feeds envy or vanity), and to pay very close attention to the happi- ness of others. ♦ From Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and Your World by Matthieu Ricard. Excerpt courtesy of Little, Brown and Company. © 2015 Matthieu Ricard | Translation © by Little, Brown and Company. Two to five days prior to playing the game, participants either received a brief training in how to meditate on compassion or on how to improve memory. The experiment showed that partici- pants who’d been trained in meditation were more likely to help. Moreover, an increase of pro-social behavior toward strangers was proportional to the period of time spent training in compassion. Ricard tells the Shambhala Sun, “In the same way that a doc- tor trains for six to seven years to master his or her expertise, if you want to help others, it’s not like you can just wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I’m going to change the world.’ You have to build up some qualities.” He stresses, however, that we need to understand this about compassion: If we lack compassion for some, we risk lacking compassion for all. “If you have compassion for everyone but, say, a certain ethnic group or animals,” he says, “then you are killing part of your empathic resonance with others. You end up dehumanizing a group of human beings or removing animals, say, from the sphere of your consideration.” “In order to progress toward a more altruistic society,” Ricard writes in Altruism, “it is essential that altruists associate with each other and join forces. In our time, this synergy between coopera- tors and altruists no longer requires them to be gathered together in the same geographical location, since contemporary means of communication, social networks in particular, allow the emergence Above left: Photo by Matthieu Ricard of a Tibetan girl. “Her image,” says Ricard, “reminds me of the reason we work in Tibet and our mission to bring education and health to the Tibetan people and, especially, to young girls.” Above right: Karuna-Shechen’s vocational training program to empower and economically help women in India includes workshops in candle making. ➢ page 80 PHOTOBYSHAMSULAKTAR SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 43