Today, I stumbled upon this interview with molecular-biologist-turned-Buddhist-monk, Matthieu Ricard (in German). A few years ago, I listened to his famous Altruism and although my favorite way of meditation is not focusing on a specific topic, s.a. love, or altruism, but trying not to think at all, I’m absolutely convinced by his general approach of altruism.
In his interview he demonstrates that he’s a very practical person: referring to the Buddhist story of 500 people on a boat threatened to be murdered, but rescued because the potential murderer himself is killed. It’s not my intention to vindicate this killing, the story — and its mentioning by Matthieu — only demonstrates that Buddhism comes with practical guidance instead of lofty periphrases.
However, what strikes me most, is Matthieu’s description of his first teacher Kangyour Rinpoche. When Matthieu first met him, Kangyour Rinpoche was 70 years old and lived in a tiny shack, together with his wife, two daughters, and one of his sons. „Kangyour Rinpoche radiated kindness. He was shining with power, serenity, and love. I felt pure generosity and empathy.“
From time to time, I meet someone who I immediately sympathize with, whom I can connect with in the first moment. However, I haven’t had this feeling of absolute generosity and empathy caused by Kangyour Rinpoche. And I assume that nobody I have met had this feeling towards me. The interesting aspect here is, that I‘m pretty sure how to achieve this state of mind in which an individual creates this kind of absolute serenity. The challenge lies in following the rules to get there. I‘m speaking of three apparently simple rules that everybody may follow. Here they are:
1. Don‘t resist!
Never mind, what happens: immediately accept any situation as it is. There are three ways to tackle any situation: first, accept it and focus on the action needed until the situation has changed. Second, try to change one or more constitutive aspect(s) of the situation. Third, leave the situation.
2. Don‘t judge!
Accept any situation, object, or living being as it is. Do not interpret or judge. Just see what‘s there. (From neuroscience we know that even this might be a task too hard in most cases.)
3. Don‘t inhere!
After having experienced a situation, do not inhere in it. It‘s gone. You live now, not then.
Of course, these rules deserved to be explained better, in a more elaborate way. And there are many different ways these rules are used in, or expressed, mostly in Buddhist, and especially its Zen tradition. For me, they are the basis for living a good life, and the essence of humanity in general.
Kangyour Rinpoche was one of those allegedly few human beings who internalized these rules. His unconditional serenity and empathy are the most obvious results. There is, by the way, a close resemblance of his behavior to a baby’s. Toddlers approach most people with the same unconditional openness, innocence, and friendliness. The fascinating aspect of Kangyour Rinpoche is that he‘s a greybeard. And, weighed down with decades of — typically mixed — experiences, older human beings tend to behave in a more introverted, straitened way.
One of the main aspects of any event is that it happens and that you essentially experience it. The fact that I stumbled upon this interview with Matthieu Ricard, today, motivated me to write this blog post — and — to again trying to follow the above mentioned three rules. If you like, give it a try, too! It‘s worth it!