Ask a frenchman dating
Ricard is a highly unusual figure in that - by contrast with the unquestioning, some would say credulous, nature of many believers - he has brought the scientific rigour of his early life to his faith: first in the form of his translations of texts from Tibetan (the language in which he normally communicates) then, more recently, in his contribution to the question of whether science can accurately map an individual's mental equilibrium.He was assessed in a programme headed by the cognitive scientist Professor Richard K Davidson, principal of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He shows me the chart of volunteers' results, on his laptop.To find Ricard, you have to keep scrolling left, away from the main curve, until you eventually find him - a remote dot at the beginning of the x-axis.Even so, I tell him, one line that resonates with me is a quotation from the critic Dominique Noguez, who argues that misery is more interesting than contentment: "Because it has a seductive intensity, and the attraction of always leaving something to anticipate: happiness." "What other things," Ricard asks now, "make you happy? a half case of Jaboulet's Parallèle 45 Côtes du Rhône with friends, over prawn dhansak..." "What you're describing is a lull; a calm in the storm.You have to identify what it is in that situation that makes you happy."In these tests," he explains, "all the meditators were outside the standard curve.Statistically, they fell into in a tight, well-defined group. If it was just me, it could have been a fluke." "Isn't there an inherited predisposition to gloom?
Bring to your mind a past occasion of inner joy and happiness," writes Matthieu Ricard in his new book Happiness: A Guide To Developing Life's Most Important Skill. Consider the lasting effect this experience has had on your mind, and how it still nourishes a sense of fulfilment.""Now this," I tell Ricard, "was the point where I started to run into trouble.However long I worked at this meditation exercise, the memory that kept coming back to me was of the evening in May 1999 when I was sitting in the Nou Camp in Barcelona, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the injury-time goal that won the Champions' League for Manchester United." "I would suggest that what you experienced that night was elation.And elation is not really what we mean by happiness.But within minutes of speaking to him, I can tell that the m mansion in Malibu, where he secretly retires to snort cocaine off the thighs of Lithuanian hookers, in the tradition of innumerable TV evangelists, cannot conceivably exist.In the foreword to Happiness, the psychologist Dr Daniel Goleman describes how a three-hour wait at an airport "sped by in minutes, due to the sheer pleasure of Matthieu's orbit" - a phrase which had made me faintly nauseous when I first read it. Ricard exudes a sense of tranquillity, kindness and - surprisingly enough - humour. An outstanding goalkeeper in his youth, Matthieu Ricard also enjoys an international reputation as a photographer, and was lauded by Cartier-Bresson.
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Not that I'm saying you'd be any happier where I grew up in Manchester, where two of my three uncles have been fired at with Uzis..." "What," Ricard interrupts, "is an Uzi? We can develop our potential as if "polishing a nugget" and eventually (omega) achieve happiness, "like a bird soaring into the sky when his cage is opened".