The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life

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Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters.

Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred? Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life.

Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives.


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Jean-Francois Revel, a member of the Academie Francaise, was born in 1924. He studied and taught philosophy but abandoned university teaching to concentrate on writing. He was editor for many years of the influential political weekly L'Express. His books, including the best-seller Without Marx or Jesus and How Democracies Perish, have gained worldwide recognition.

Matthieu Ricard lives in the Shechen Monastery in Nepal. Born in France in 1946, he received his doctorate in molecular biology from the Institut Pasteur in Paris. In 1972 he decided to forsake his scientific career to better concentrate on his Buddhist studies, which he had begun years earlier. He has published Journey to Enlightenment, a book of photographs about his teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (one of the most eminent Tibetan masters of our times and a teacher to The Dalai Lama), as well as translations of many Buddhist texts. He often accompanies The Dalai Lama to France as his personal interpreter.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Schocken
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Published on
Mar 16, 2011
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780307787019
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Religious
Religion / Buddhism / General
Religion / Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Matthieu Ricard
Matthieu Ricard trained as a molecular biologist, working in the lab of a Nobel prize—winning scientist, but when he read some Buddhist philosophy, he became drawn to Buddhism. Eventually he left his life in science to study with Tibetan teachers, and he is now a Buddhist monk and translator for the Dalai Lama, living in the Shechen monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. Trinh Thuan was born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam but became intrigued by the explosion of discoveries in astronomy during the 1960s. He made his way to the prestigious California Institute of Technology to study with some of the biggest names in the field and is now an acclaimed astrophysicist and specialist on how the galaxies formed.

When Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Thuan met at an academic conference in the summer of 1997, they began discussing the many remarkable connections between the teachings of Buddhism and the findings of recent science. That conversation grew into an astonishing correspondence exploring a series of fascinating questions. Did the universe have a beginning? Or is our universe one in a series of infinite universes with no end and no beginning? Is the concept of a beginning of time fundamentally flawed? Might our perception of time in fact be an illusion, a phenomenon created in our brains that has no ultimate reality? Is the stunning fine-tuning of the universe, which has produced just the right conditions for life to evolve, a sign that a “principle of creation” is at work in our world? If such a principle of creation undergirds the workings of the universe, what does that tell us about whether or not there is a divine Creator? How does the radical interpretation of reality offered by quantum physics conform to and yet differ from the Buddhist conception of reality? What is consciousness and how did it evolve? Can consciousness exist apart from a brain generating it?

The stimulating journey of discovery the authors traveled in their discussions is re-created beautifully in The Quantum and the Lotus, written in the style of a lively dialogue between friends. Both the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and the discoveries of contemporary science are introduced with great clarity, and the reader will be profoundly impressed by the many correspondences between the two streams of thought and revelation. Through the course of their dialogue, the authors reach a remarkable meeting of minds, ultimately offering a vital new understanding of the many ways in which science and Buddhism confirm and complement each other and of the ways in which, as Matthieu Ricard writes, “knowledge of our spirits and knowledge of the world are mutually enlightening and empowering.”


From the Hardcover edition.
Matthieu Ricard
Buddhism shares with science the task of examining the mind empirically; it has pursued, for two millennia, direct investigation of the mind through penetrating introspection. Neuroscience, on the other hand, relies on third-person knowledge in the form of scientific observation. In this book, Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk trained as a molecular biologist, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist -- close friends, continuing an ongoing dialogue -- offer their perspectives on the mind, the self, consciousness, the unconscious, free will, epistemology, meditation, and neuroplasticity.

Ricard and Singer's wide-ranging conversation stages an enlightening and engaging encounter between Buddhism's wealth of experiential findings and neuroscience's abundance of experimental results. They discuss, among many other things, the difference between rumination and meditation (rumination is the scourge of meditation, but psychotherapy depends on it); the distinction between pure awareness and its contents; the Buddhist idea (or lack of one) of the unconscious and neuroscience's precise criteria for conscious and unconscious processes; and the commonalities between cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation. Their views diverge (Ricard asserts that the third-person approach will never encounter consciousness as a primary experience) and converge (Singer points out that the neuroscientific understanding of perception as reconstruction is very like the Buddhist all-discriminating wisdom) but both keep their vision trained on understanding fundamental aspects of human life.

馬修.李卡德
★榮獲誠品選書推薦

★橫掃法國各大暢銷榜冠軍,上市一週再刷15萬冊!銷售逾35萬冊!

★全法最推崇,合計坐擁400萬追隨者的科學家僧侶、精神科醫師、暢銷哲學家,
10天暢談80個小時,關於生命重要問題的精采問答!

三個老朋友,
三種關於「人」的專業、三種面對人生的智慧,
從不同的生活經驗中叩問:
是什麼帶給生命喜樂和痛苦?
應該如何安住此生?

哲學家、精神科醫師和佛教僧侶,多年來一直想合寫一本書。
三人因為這個企畫而相聚十天,就他們認為生命中最重要的問題促膝長談。
不是辯論,而是傾盡真心的深度交會。
他們的觀點意見不盡一致,但目的都是盡可能減少人生的痛苦和消極情緒,啟發人追求幸福的潛能,發現和發掘「利他」的人生動機,從而獲得真正自由幸福的人生。

希望讀者能從這本書裡感受到我們在交流時的勤奮認真,以及歡樂氣氛,感受到我們即席而發的精神。
我們竭力使談話具有一貫性,不致散漫無章。也希望把想法充分向讀者傳達。
現在就請在我們身邊坐下來,坐在一張椅子上,或者是更靠近我們一點,和我們一起坐在舒適的舊沙發上。
壁爐裡的火畢畢剝剝響著,窗外是隨河谷開展的景色。
冬天的太陽漸漸變蒼白,茶壺裡的茶冒著熱氣,暖了手,也刺激了我們的心神。
亞歷山大淘氣起來,說了個笑話;馬修扶一扶他的眼鏡,擊掌叮嚀大家專心一點;克里斯多福再看一眼他前一天晚上寫在小筆記本上的筆記(他知道他狡猾的伙伴經常會轉頭看他,要他第一個發表意見)。

談話就要開始了,現在就只缺讀者您了……

關於「與身體同行」──克里斯多福

*像尊重大自然一樣地尊重我們的身體。

身體並不屬於我們專有,就像大自然不屬於我們。我們不過是地球的房客,好比我們是身體的房客。我們的身體在死後會被收回,就如同大自然在我們死後會繼續存在一樣。

*接受並愛惜我們的衰老。

把「老」看做是一個幫助,協助我們不再依戀自己的身體,並藉此準備離開它。沒有遺憾地、輕輕緩緩地離開,就像離開一個暫時借我們的東西那樣,我們的身體也將為未來的世代所回收。

關於「好好運用情緒」──馬修

*讓你的注意力變銳利,以便在負面情緒浮現之時就能有所意識。熄滅星星之火比撲滅森林大火容易。

*學習更了解自己的情緒。訓練自己分辨對自己和他人身心安泰有益的,以及會摧毀這些的事物。

*一旦負面情緒明顯帶來了不良後果,那就快向它的解藥靠攏,也就是尋求正面情緒的幫助。

*持續培養正面情緒,直到正面情緒成為我們不可分離的一部分。

關於「面對自我」──亞歷山大

*照顧好自己。

為了擺脫「自我」,或至少讓「自我」沉靜,確實將自己照顧好,並且辨別出真正感到喜樂的事物。否則在我們挫折、痛苦、忿忿不平的時候,「自我」便會激盪起來。

*「我是誰?」

覺得焦慮時,立刻問自己:是「誰」在害怕?辨別出那即使是在騷亂中也總是藏在內心深處的安寧所在。

*把感激他人當做「精神操練」。

以具體行動幫助他人,投入團結互助這個無限迴圈裡。

【各界好評】

詹宏志(PChome  Online董事長)
王浩威(精神科醫師,華人心理治療研究發展基金會執行長)
張德芬(華人世界首席身心靈作家)
褚士瑩(作家、公益旅行家,國際非營利組織顧問)
許瑞云(《哈佛醫師心能量》作者)
誠摯推薦!

媒體好評

這本書是三個朋友間的心得交流,談的是人生,也是他們各自從佛教僧侶,哲學家,心理學家的不同視角來談對人生幸福的信念。-- 法國國際廣播電台

這本書充滿了三人的豐富智慧,是一場三人的慈善高峰會!-- 《觀點報》

讀三人交換人生意見,宛若進入哲學與心靈的實驗室,深度探索生命裡會遇見的各種障礙。--《費加洛雜誌》

這三位好友的觀點如此不同,但卻又如此鞭辟入裡。這是一本充滿智慧的書,讓讀者能學習到人生的藝術。 -- 《電訊報》

這本深刻、快樂又可靠的書,揭露了三個朋友堅信的真理,讓讀者能夠獲得啟發,理解「變通」「責任感」「自由」「愛」與「仁慈」的意義。--《里昂日報》

這三位好友對智慧的追尋,能使我們在生命中找到靈感、快樂與幸福的泉源。 --《今日土耳其》

讀者推薦

這不是一本智慧指南,但每個人都能從中找到各自人生的意義。三個好友、三類不同身分、三種使用大腦的不同方式,讓這本書充滿各種力量!

書中充滿了人生的喜悅和友情,讀這本書就像上了一堂美麗的人性學習課程。

三位守夜人以無數的睿智思考啟蒙,點亮我們灰暗又充滿憤怒焦慮的人生!

這本書宛如一張讓我們更了解自己的邀請函。

除了美麗的詞彙,他們的分享也讓我們與自身的人性不完美之處相連結。同時,他們也會分享疑惑、懷疑,藉以提醒我們尋求智慧的旅途上,必須要從每天的生活中一點一滴進步,了解自己的脆弱、墮落、失敗,讓人生每個階段都能變得更好。

這是一本有趣、充滿知識、良善與溫柔的書。它為我們在日常生活裡的痛苦及煩惱指引出一條明路,它教導我們要照顧自己的內心,與自己及他人和平共存。這本書的文字既清晰而簡潔,適合所有人閱讀。值得一讀再讀!

即便不是哲學家、精神科醫師或僧侶,這本書還是會讓你對自己的心靈進行反思。這是關於人文精神美麗而動人的一課。

作者簡介

馬修.李卡德(Matthieu Ricard)

已出家40年的藏傳佛教僧侶。巴黎巴斯德研究院分子生物學博士。年輕時除了追隨諾貝爾醫學獎得主一起研究生物基因族譜,同時也專精於生態攝影、鳥類生態學、天文學、帆船、滑雪等。26歲時,發覺擁有各種藝術或科學才華,並不能帶給他滿足,完成博士論文後決定放棄科學研究生涯,遷居尼泊爾的喜馬拉雅山區,跟隨西藏上師學習佛法。曾師從頂果欽哲仁波切,並由該師引薦結識達賴喇嘛,1989年後,擔任達賴喇嘛的法文翻譯。目前在尼泊爾獻身於「慈悲─雪謙寺」的人道救援計畫。著有《僧侶與哲學家》《僧侶與科學家》(以上究竟出版)、《快樂學》等多部著作。其中,與父親的思辯對話集《僧侶與哲學家》在法國暢銷35萬冊,被翻譯為21國語言。

克里斯多福.安得烈(Christophe André)

精神科醫生,情緒心理學權威。實踐靜心冥想多年,並將靜心冥想法運用於臨床治療。目前在巴黎聖安娜教學醫院擔任醫師,並運用東方禪觀念帶領靜心營,引導病患遠離憂鬱痛苦,同時於巴黎第十大學任教。多部心理學著作受到法國大眾讀者歡迎,論述人的自尊心、人與人生的不完美性,尋找自由幸福的人生實踐和藝術。主張建立追求人生幸福的心理學,呼籲人們有意識地抵禦外界的有毒人格對自己人生之路的干擾破壞。著有:《不完美、自由與快樂》《心緒》《別忘記要快樂》《日復一日的靜坐冥想》等。

亞歷山大.喬連安(Alexandre Jollien)

哲學家與作家。1975年出生,曾有17年的時間寄宿在在殘障特教中心。首部著作《對弱小的禮讚》出版即獲得廣大讀者歡迎,更獲頒法蘭西學院獎。另著有《「人」這個職業》《自我建設》《捨棄的小論述》《不問為什麼的活著》等多本暢銷著作,以哲學家身分探討人格成長建立與哲學的關係。

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