using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 68 I would have loved to play chess like Bobby Fischer, but I would not want to be like Bobby Fisher. I got a new and important perspective on this phenomenon when I went to India in 1967, where I met a large number of remarkable beings. RICHARD GERE: What took you to the Himalayas for the first time? MATTHIEU RICARD: I saw a documentary called The Mes- sage of the Tibetans, made by a French filmmaker named Ar- naud Desjardins, who had spent six months in the Himalayas, filming all the great Tibetan teachers who had fled the Chi- nese invasion of Tibet. At the end of it, there was ten minutes, in silence, showing face after face of those great beings. I was completely amazed by their quality. They all looked different— some with big noses, some smiling, some a little bit strict—but there was a singular quality of being. They displayed human qualities that I thought I might like to have, qualities quite dif- ferent from the kind of genius I had been exposed to. That’s what inspired me to first go there. Then I did meet teachers in person. I found they had a strength that didn’t impose anything on you or put you down. It was an inspiring strength. They exuded tremendous kind- ness. Suddenly, I thought, if I could become something like that it would be a great thing to do with this life. RICHARD GERE: How long did it take before you made the decision to go there for good? MATTHIEU RICARD: I was at the Pasteur Institute, but my mind was always flying to Darjeeling, so I thought I’d better change the situation. When I finished my Ph.D., I decided to return to India and stay there. It was the right time; I had fin- ished my work and published some scientific papers. RICHARD GERE: You’re being humble. You walked away from the beginning of what would have been an amazing career as a scientist. MATTHIEU RICARD: Yes, people ask me how I could have made such a radical break. I didn’t think of it that way. I just went where I thought life would be more fulfilling. There was a continuity between studying bacteria and studying the mind and the mechanism of happiness. I thought I was getting a good deal! [Everyone laughs] RICHARD GERE: Eventually, you ended up studying closely with and translating for His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Can you say a little about that? MATTHIEU RICARD: He was one of the most beloved teach- ers in the Tibetan world and a teacher to the Dalai Lama. He spent thirty years in retreat, not something we can all do. In the second part of his life, he put himself totally at the service of others. He would teach from morning to evening. He would teach thousands of people at a time, and even at lunch he would teach two or three people. He was so simple and also like a mountain, six feet five inches tall. I spent fifteen years with him and never witnessed any moment when he was harmful to others. He could be very strict with people, but never harmful. A guru is not someone who manipulates every instant of your life but someone who shows you what you could become. RICHARD GERE: Did you have any traumatic experiences as a child, a time of intense suffering, that would cause you to seek the way to happiness? MATTHIEU RICARD: Funny, a friend of mine told me, “You are the last person to write a book on happiness. You really didn’t ever suffer!” [Audience laughs] RICHARD GERE: That’s true. MATTHIEU RICARD: How do you know?! RICHARD GERE: I have suffered! I know about suffering! [Ev- eryone laughs] So, Matthieu, what’s the big deal about happi- ness? I mean, really. MATTHIEU RICARD: Well, the word is admittedly vague. And the French intellectuals hate that. They say, We’re not interested in happiness. Even Goethe said that three days of unchanging happiness would be unbearable. [Audience laughs] Suffering is so nice; it’s changing all the time—all the colors and shapes, the intensity. But in fact, people mistake pleasurable feelings for genuine happiness. With pleasure, we jump on something, then we add something else, and something else, and then we collapse exhausted and depressed. People never think of happiness as a way of being because they are thinking of pleasure, which de- pends on circumstances. It’s conditioned. One ice cream is great; two is OK; three, you feel nauseated. That’s pleasure. RICHARD GERE: You talk in your new book, Happiness, about moments of real happiness, not ice-cream-cone happiness, but the moments we remember in our solitude—the moments of making a child smile, a deep sunset that takes us away from our- selves, a moment when the idea of “self ” evaporates, when we witness the basic life force of another being, or even our own, without the filter of the mind feeding us negative, toxic inputs. PHOTO©ROBERTA.RIPPS People never think of happiness as a way of being because they are thinking of pleasure, which depends on circumstances. —MATTHIEU RICARD