The Roots of Altruism

Matthieu Ricard, A monk of the Nyingma order, based at the Shechen Tenni Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal

Co-sponsored by the Tibetan Studies Initiative and Project Compassion. Is true altruism possible? A significant number of psychologists, theoreticians of evolution, and economists believe that selfishness can be tracked behind any action that appears to be altruistic. But there is also a large body of evidence showing that pure altruism, the genuine wish to benefit others and the corresponding behavior, is an integral part of human nature. Buddhism's analysis of the nature of mind indicates, not only that altruistic love and compassion are natural qualities of human nature, but that they can be cultivated to a much greater extent through mind training. Questions and answers follow the talk. Matthieu Ricard, a monk of the Nyingma order, based at the Shechen Tenni Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal, is well known as an author, photographer, and lecturer. His published works include The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life (2000, with Jean-Francois Revel); Journey to Enlightenment: The Life and World of Khyentse Rinpoche (1996); The Buddhist Himalayas (2002); Monk Dancers of Tibet (2003); Tibet: An Inner Journey (2007); Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas (2008); and Bhutan: The Land of Serenity (2009). Among his many interests and commitments, Dr. Ricard, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the Institut Pasteur, is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute and advises on neuroscientific research into spiritual and contemplative states. Information on Matthieu Ricard's work can be found at and

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | 7:30 pm — 9:00 pm
McCaw Hall, Arrillaga Alumni Center, 326 Galvez Street

Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford