Delight Springs

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Matthieu Ricard

Took advantage of Indian Summer yesterday with a long lunch-hour walkabout at the old civil war fortress. How do other academics, granted the glorious freedom to get away from their desks at mid-day, allow themselves not to, on days like these? 

And, how do they allow themselves and their classes not to spill out into any of our many seductive campus courtyards? We did that in my classes yesterday again, in the morning for a CoPhi report on The Simpsons & Philosophy (Sophia was right, it's much easier to think out there) and then late in the day in Happiness to learn why Matthieu Ricard is such a happy guy. Damon, Caroline, and Jessica assumed appropriate meditative postures on the ground and gave us a great introduction to the "happiest man in the world."

Ricard repeatedly writes that happiness takes work, but promises that it's work we're all fitted for if we're willing. We don't have to toss our western careers and lifestyles and move to Tibet, we can detach from the toxins of our culture, from our habitual acquisitiveness and busy-ness, at will.

This is an eastern message whose "astonishing" western echo Frederic Lenoir finds finds in Stoicism and Montaigne's skepticism. 
This wisdom can be summed up in a few words: nothing is more precious than life, and in order to be happy we just need to learn to love life and enjoy it in the proper, adaptable way, in accordance with our own natures.
And also like Chuang Tzu, and the current Dalai Lama, Montaigne has a happy sense of humor. He laughs at himself and invites us all to lighten up in a spirit of gentle self-mockery: On the highest thrones we're still seated on our asses, etc. What fun he would have had with TV's viagra and cialis spots.

But, just learn to love life really seems more promissory than practical - kind of like the Pythons' "How to Do It."
Here's Jackie to tell you how to rid the world of all known diseases... Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something, and then, when the medical world really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be diseases any more.
Tune in next time, sure, but don't expect anyone to teach you how to love life. That's the self-help each of us has to manage for ourselves if we can. The happy example of a radiant French-Tibetan scientist/monk, and a TED Talk or two (or two dozen) is more than encouraging, but ultimately the pursuit of happiness is personal.

6:49/6:49, 59/86

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