Matthieu Ricard: How to let altruism be your guide

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What is altruism? Put simply, it’s the wish that other people may be happy. And, says Matthieu Ricard, a happiness researcher and a Buddhist monk, altruism is also a great lens for making decisions, both for the short and long term, in work and in life.

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Comment (83)

  1. Awesome but utopic. I always thought that buddists from tibet and buthan were into something bigger and more advanced and now I am quite sure of it. They are more advanced and should be taken as an example. But the opposite happens, the dumb and brute wins cause they are not kind and can't see a thing more than primal urges.

  2. This is the goal to move away from survival of the fittest and to move to survival of the group. Survival of the fittest is referenced and ingrained in so many people now they believe it is inescapable. The fact is we can and do produce enough food to feed everyone on this earth it's very doable but we choose not to. The reason we don't is because the people making food don't want to lose their profit their luxury their way of life. I'm not talking the one farmer I'm talking about the large food producing companies. 

  3. Very interesting, I think this should be the way of life in society but as we are capitalists, its "every man for himself, I can be the best no matter who I step over to get there". This is how wars start, this is why our "education" has been broken down to memory regurgitation, and this why people are so fucking selfish. Great message this man is trying to share, we should all be more caring for humanity because aren't we a part of it?

  4. The comments sections… lol 

    The point isn't to create a perfect world. The point is to be selfless and enjoy life on life's terms. TO do the most goo possible and to enjoy knowing that you tried. Its not about abandoning the world and giving up your life. Its just about being conscious of your actions and how they affect others on an individuals basis, and hoping that others will follow. 

  5.  Noticing a lot of hate on altruism, this lack of optimism is the problem. Look outside of your normal groups and make friends with others, it makes a big difference, and then you will notice that altruism is around and it could be even more powerful if more people implemented it. [Puts on monk robe]

  6. Is this talk an act of altruistic sacrifice for the monk, or does he gain selfish pleasure by giving it?
    I vote for B, it's an act of selfish pleasure. Nothing altruistic going on here.

  7. There is a reason why there are only about 5% people r consider "sucessful" because 95% of ur lack the attitude, the passion, the vision, the sacrifice, the will power. To admit that you don't know the answer. To risk it all, so you can win it all. As in pokers. The champ always go all in!!!

  8. Once you think that is impossible and the door is closed . Once you think the people are selfish and hopeless and the door is closed . The door that your light of love to others is closed , because you are the same as you think about others .

    Altruistic love doesn't mean self-sacrifice or self-harm or living for others and losing self caring etc… any kind of thought from whom doesn't really know about it .

    Altruistic love is about considerations and self improvement and self love, because who do altruistic love to others know about the cause and effect , the causality about what is the true and basic parts of the world is love ,kindness and respect and cycling .

    When you are helping others ,you are not gaining money or any substances , but more than that , the happiness and warmness and respect . The world is not selfish but excessive desires about what will return to him in material ways ,and he doesn't want to take a risk to let go the past and what is in the future in his thinking .

    People are just needed love from others, like mom and dad and friends and even strangers by helping and caring each others.

  9. Wow, still so much negativity in the comments (though I shouldn't be surprised, since this IS the internet :P). Just an argument for altruism from me: Assuming everything human beings do is selfish; isn't altruism the best form of selfishness? 🙂

  10. whoever knows basic physics and the basic archimede's buoyancy principle, knows that no matter how many ice masses melt in the poles the water is not going to rise even an inch, the overall amount of water mass is not gonna change. what a bunch of propagandistic fear mongering new age hippie bs…

  11. People are missing the point. Altruism is not just physical transaction of happiness, actually it is not even EXTERNAL. Altruism starts within, to wish someone else happiness (mentally and emotionally). Which can be a powerful thing. TRY PRACTICING ALTRUISM FOR A WEEK FOR EVERYBODY THAT YOU KNOW, it is a difficult task that takes commitment, transformation, and faith to wish happiness to other for other. Then the "EXTERNAL THAT PEOPLE ARE STUCK ON," shall fall into a natural peace.

  12. Altruism is more than the wish that other people be happy. Altruism is a morality which dictates that existence for your own sake is evil, and that your only moral purpose in life is in fact to live for others. Why is it immoral for me to earn cake and eat it, but perfectly moral for me to earn cake and give to someone else to eat? Why is it immoral for me to eat the cake, but moral for the other person to eat it? Simply because it was given and not earned? Why am I a selfish monster for wanting to keep my cake, but the other person is a moral angel for wanting it? Must the other person NOT want my cake before I give it to him, in order for the transaction to be moral?

  13. Altruism creates better co-operation. What creates altruism? or should we ask what does not make us altruistic? Material comparison, societal prejudices, greed, etc.
    Overcoming these are not REVOLUTION! They become a part of our EVOLUTION; we need to evolve to leave all that we care for today and realise the meaning of life.

  14. I like the point about how cooperation is the major factor in the evolution of complexity. Cells work together to form an organism, organisms work together to form a colony or group, individuals often sacrifice themselves for the whole. Of course we can say it is automatic or unconscious. But humans form part of a greater whole too, and our altruism or unselfishness is also automatic, as was suggested by the talk. If we let it be so. The problem is that we don't let it be. Instead we obsess on our 'self', which gives us a substitute sense of purpose, full of self-conscious confusion that we are constantly having to 'manage'. This is what is causing all the mayhem in the world. In the words of a popular song 'Let it go!'

  15. This is not a vision, but a challenge. Yes the world is selfish but not hopeless, we can change it together. Love anything that focuses on growing acceptance among children, they will change our world. We need to do good to make good…Challenge accepted 🙂 Love how open monks are to scientific research nothing but respect and admiration, I do yoga but will add in mindful meditation.

  16. No matter of linguistic origin of the English word 'altruism', the important is meaning. (Tibetans would better know what is the meaning in Tibetan; the language is different, incl. plural etc.) There might be steps during the shift of how we think. We can consider 'self-centredness' (teacher often speak about the grasping the though of 'I') as a contrary to altruism. It does not mean, we should deny, or even hate 'I', it means do not give attention to it, shift the attention from 'I' towards 'we all' or 'being', 'being one'. Be motivated in the way to benefit all, to find a way which would be the most possible considering all. 'I and others' might be a step between.

  17. This is a true religion, for the simple fact that they don't do proselitism at all, and it's not an atheist religion like someone say, wich is itself a nonsense to put the words atheist and religion together, every religion is just theist. It's altruist and empathic towards every form of being in the universe, respectful even to the "infidels" and atheists as they are all part of the same creation.

  18. Always a pleasure to hear from this 'most altruistic' monk – aka molecular physicist. If you haven't read his "Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill" do so. It is a joy. His sense of humour is wonderful, as demonstrated in this TED Talk.

  19. This reminds me of a quote: "The World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY."

    I consider myself an altruist that has been manipulated and used by the selfishness of society so far, but I keep on helping, because it makes me feel good. Nevertheless, by "empowering" altruism, you're also rejecting the idea of critical thinking and selfishness (which on a certain level is actually healthy). If we lived in an altruistic world, it would be full of polite and false people. I most certainly don't want that.

    Sadly, as history has proven so far, the only way to change things is by revolutions. 

  20. Truly wonderful talk. This message cannot proliferate fast enough!
    I was also extremely excited to hear about that research with the children – that is quite astounding.
    Thank you Matthieu Ricard, a huge inspiration!:)

  21. The contrasting view is altruism is behind the collapse of America. Ayn Rand view which was highly touted back in the 60's reversed the altruism movement into the conservative times experienced today .Yale Harvard and other ivy league universities now sneer at any form of altruism philosophy

  22. It's interesting when your starting point is philosophical naturalism how it can effect your thinking. Altruism has nothing to do with evolution and in fact evolution has a much darker side in reality survival of the fittest and natural selection. Hitler put this in place in wwii as eugenics and the consequences were disastrous. I think Matthieu is blinded by the truth the truth of the gospel and the one true God and history of this world. He touches on positive sides of what Christians call prevenient grace, but he is blind to the reality of this sinful world. There is no hope outside of Christ Matthieu. Sure you can live your life in an altruistic manner but your view falls short of answering the larger scale questions. Why am I here? Where am I going? Is there a god? And if so what happens to me after life on earth. The bible gives adequate response to these questions and makes no apology for its presuppositions.

  23. If you really wish other people to be happy then give them the right to live for their own interests and stop this altruistic bull. Some ways look good but their end is death and destruction.

  24. There are many religious con artists out there.  This isn't one of them, but your opinion is your own.  If you don't get the message at the present moment, maybe you'll understand at some other point.  Good luck.

  25. The government depends on people to pay taxes to survive, Businesses depends on employees/customers to survive… I think we all depend on each other, always someway or another to survive…

  26. Such a sweet presense, mind, and spirit!! He manges to portray very complex issues in a simple and inspiring way. Hopefully soon we would not say the banality of goodness, but rather the banality of violence, hatred, opression, and selfishness. May altruism steadily make its way into our everyday lives!!

  27. from the comment section it seems people misunderstand altruism. yes, it depends on the selfish pleasure individuals feel, but that is quite separate from calculated machiavellian intentions. helping someone because your brain is motivated to do it (for the sake of the act alone), i.e. it "feels good", is different from doing something as a means to reach some other goal (e.g. deliberately helping someone to use their generosity for your own goals later on)
    in short: altruism involves individual pleasure, it doesn't involve an agenda.

  28. While I do accept and respect the freedom of this, Forcefully Evicted Monk's faith in "Altruistic" morality based on peace, love, and giving ones self for those that have been wrongly persecuted, or beaten down, much as all his fellow Monk's have been. I Objectively know its a morality of evil forced upon 99.31% of US citizens it is preached to by psuedo Socialist Liberals as well as the .69% that recieve all the benefits of Altruism. Yet that same Altruistic government that have not acted upon any Scientific Fact let alone explore the virtues of any Philosophy in nearly 100 years. That same govt gives favors to those who gain 300% of the benefits from Altruistisms evil morality, with little regard for abhorrent affect it has had and continues to have on all humanity, and the devastaion to this Precious Jewel of Earth. Of the many contradictions of an evil morality such as Altruism the worst is that the working class needs to be Altruistic for less pay, longer hours, sacrifice their, humanity, personal Happiness, Fewer Benefits, and and all while achieving higher production, to benefit a tiny .69% of the entire population of the US while the majorities Altruistism will gain them a punishing 300% less then those who spout how great Altruism is. When viewed from afar the Liberal Welfare State seems almost humanitarian until you dig deeper to find Stateism perpetuated by Fascists that preach one morality, while they enjoy an entirely different morality. I am as Objectively Happy as a "FREE" man is able to achieve in this idiocracy of contradictions. I have even scraped out some amount of wealth, I do practice Altruism as this Monk believes, I do helpful deeds only for my own selfish happiness, but it means nothing when I consider that I, as one Objectivist, can do little to change this empire of evil Altruistic morality alone. The Altruistic Morality will be a means to an end for many many humans, as it has in the past, I just cannot understand for the life of me why anyone would choose to exist in this Altruististic Labotomy? I would have countless to help if more free humans could find their own Selfish Happiness. The Fore Fathers of a once Democratic and free Market Economy made up and of Objectively Free Men Penned the Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—

    I read this and the Preamble as well as the original Constitution nearly every day, for no other reason then my own Happiness. I bud you all Peace Love and Happiness may you find all 3.

  29. This man is altruistic yet he is a Buddhist and pursues Enlightenment by doing good. Excuse me if I interpreted this incorrectly, but what is wrong with this logic?


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