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Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World Paperback – June 14, 2016
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''Matthieu Ricard is an extraordinary human being, whose luminous presence and gentle voice have a surprising effect: they compel respect for his benign view of life and make routine cynicism impossible.'' --Daniel Kahneman
''Matthieu Ricard is a genius for our times, a rare combination of scientific brilliance with the heart of a saint.'' --Daniel Goleman
''Matthieu Ricard brings together ancient wisdom and scientific insights to put forth a truly compelling global vision for the 21st century, cutting through our endless distractions and asking, "What is a good life?" At a time when we as individuals and as a society have largely abandoned that question, his voice, his message and his wisdom are greatly needed.'' --Arianna Huffington
''Altruism is just what is needed to bring hope to those depressed by the violence, war, selfishness and corruption that surround us today. Matthieu Ricard provides convincing evidence based on both careful research and personal experience that altruism is an integral part of our nature... Altruism addresses how these qualities can be cultivated and enhanced in the individual and how a more altruistic society is not only possible but essential if we care about the future.'' --Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace
''Written with deep conviction and breathtaking scope, this is a must-book for anyone who wants to explore the human capacity for altruistic love and compassion, and the potential of this capacity to transform our lives. In conversation with Western philosophical and scientific perspectives, the book offers a Buddhist vision for extending altruism beyond its natural limits through carefully crafted meditation practices. The goal is, quite simply, to enable you and me, our society, and all sentient beings to experience less suffering and greater happiness. Could one desire more?'' --Daniel C. Batson, author of Altruism in Humans
''Who better to tell us about altruism than a Buddhist monk and scientist, who has meditated so extensively on compassion that it has changed the left side of his brain? In a lively and personal account, Matthieu Ricard takes us through the origins of empathy and altruism, explaining how biology laid the foundation, whereas culture and spirituality permit us to expand its reach.'' --Frans de Waal, author of The Age of Empathy --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Born in France, Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who left a career in cellular genetics to study Buddhism in the Himalayas over forty-five years ago. He is an internationally bestselling author whose previous books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Ricard is celebrated at the World Economic Forum at Davos and at TED, where more than seven million people have viewed his talks. He lives in Nepal and devotes much of his time to humanitarian projects in Tibet, India, and Nepal.
Top customer reviews
From the first page, Ricard introduces the reader to the various forms of altruism and portrays “true love” as a supreme form of compassion. He recognizes that individualism, greediness, egocentrism, and narcissism are human forces that oppose altruism, and brings up the famous Groucho Marx quip, “why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?” Nevertheless, through the entire book, he conveys an astonishing and varied amount of information, ranging from historical analyses, comparative biology, the role of the hormone oxytocin, the functioning of “mirror neurons,” and the effects of vagal tone on the parasympathetic nervous system, to explain that humans are social animals that have a natural tendency to cooperate; such a view is opposite to the well-known concept that humans are by nature competitive, selfish and behave like wolves. The book gives a particular emphasis to two central themes, the demonstration that altruism exists, and how to cultivate it.
The book arrives at a most propitious moment when the United Nations is holding negotiations to adopt a new strategy for the next 15 years, called “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). It is also the time when many religious groups are intensifying their teachings about tolerance and cooperation to deal with the modern world, and particularly the affirmation that we have the moral obligation to act, as stated in the recent papal encyclical about climate change. Ricard expands the notion of altruism to deal with its social dimension and devotes many pages to explain the concepts of interdependence and interconnectedness, which are at the core of the yoga tradition. Based on solid scientific research, he brings the well-known concept of “planetary boundaries” to explain the magnitude of the current planetary challenges. The fifth part of the book is devoted to discuss the basis of a future altruistic society.
Altruism is a dense encyclopaedic and documented work that demands deep study and reflection. It has 1,769 references, printed in the last 131 pages as end-notes. It will remain for many years a major reference on the subject. We hope that in a new edition the publishers will include an alphabetical index of authors and subjects as this scholarly work will be an indispensable source of information. His major concluding remarks are a clear message: “We must dare to embrace altruism. Dare to say that real altruism exists, that it can be cultivated … and that the evolution of cultures can favour its expansion. Dare to teach it in schools. .. Dare to proclaim that altruism is not a luxury, but a necessity.”