I really enjoyed this book. It’s written in an easy reading style, but it’s not one that can be read quickly. The ideas are “subtle” and require time to digest. It’s similar to Howard Cutler’s “The Art of Happiness” and I think it’s better to read this after that book. This book is much deeper and satisfying, but it can be a big step. The difference is in the authors depth of knowledge and their distance to us readers. Matthieu Ricard is a French Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama’s french translator, and Cutler is a US psychiatrist interested in Buddhism. Both are westerners and this helps in talking to a western audience, but Ricard has so much knowledge of “Happiness” that he often has the “curse of knowledge”. It’s easy for him to get it, but not for me to get it. It’s definitely worth the effort.
Should we believe Ricard?
I think it’s interesting that he includes a discussion on modern ethics and concludes that modern man doesn’t know who to trust. I would think that this includes him. I like the irony.
Ethics in Crisis? … Unable to adhere to absolute laws, alienated from divine commandments, dismayed by the thought that mankind is fundamentally evil, and confined to a fluctuating ethic based on the opposing theories of myriad philosophers and moralists, modern man is at a loss. page 251
more cool tidbits
… Ricard was one of the first monks to meditate in MRI machines and thus there is quite a bit on neuroscience in this book. This led me to look up Ricard Davison on Wikipedia and see that this work has been controversial within Davison’s scientific community. Not sure why, but it is interesting to see this because it’s usually portrayed as unequivocally good.
… I read it at same time as Isaacson’s Steve Jobs book. Interesting connection given that Jobs was a Buddhist. Not sure if it helped me understand Jobs any better.