This conversation of Richard Gere, well-known actor and Buddhist activist, with Matthieu Ricard, a compatriot of mine, molecular biologist that decided to quite everything to become a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas, will hopefully give you the need to reed his last book: “Plaidoyer pour l’altruism” translated simply into “Altruism” in English. A master peace that will open your eyes on the infinite potentiality of compassion and altruism, and how those values can make all the difference we need to feel better in our live and change the world for the better good in the years to come. No small talk, just facts !
Nearly everywhere around the world, a lot of people still think that the only way to go beyond survival in this harsh world is to be selfish, even egoist, concentrate on their own interest and well-being. Because this world is not just, and because someone whose interest is turn toward others seems sometime defenceless or maladjusted on the eyes of a competitive society, some people even think that compassion and altruism can be potentially dangerous.
The fact is that our modern societies are based on self-interest and often reward those who are ready to take advantage of anything, even if it means hurting someone in the process, to get to there goal.
But beyond those first impressions, if we look closer, we sees that altruism and compassion are the only way to go if we want to make this planet a better world and preserve the heritage of our children. By other words: compassion is far more rational than systematic competitiveness or indifference if we want to be happier as a person and as a society.
When we are focusing only on ourselves, everything can hurt us, every remark, every little things that seems to attack our interest or our ego, every word or action that diminish or threaten the value we are according to ourselves or to our possessions seems like a threat to our well-being. Because we don’t look around as being self-centred we don’t value our chance to be alive and well to the point we sometime nourish the feeling that we are the victims of circumstances. This weakness conducts us to act out of egoism, anger or stress, worried that we could loose something precious to us in the process. No peace, no joy, just suffering.
On the opposite, being open to others, trying to understand their motivation, listen to what is beyond their words and actions, considering there happiness as important to us as our own, as we are so similar in our suffering and our desire to be happy, helping someone that need a hand or even saving someone of a dangerous situation, without thinking of any benefits in return, give us a profound feeling of accomplishment, peace and happiness. More than that : compassion help to recreate the bonds between humans and make us more concern about all the living creatures of this planet, beginning by those we have in our plate
Even at a social level, and contrary to what a lot of psychologists and philosopher’s tried to make us believe in the last century, 30 years of patient studies and experimentation prove with no doubt that human nature is a cooperative one and understand compassion better than egoism. We all know it beyond our ego: we are stronger together. We can accomplish more, better, quicker, if we cooperate and see our life as an opportunity to find the balance that give us access to our potentiality together. We can live happier if we understand and respect each other, if we help when we can and not because we want something in return, if we look inside of us to understand what we really are with no fear or delusion to develop compassion for ourselves and others.