The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life Paperback – 1 Nov 2005
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" The wonderful thing about this book is that it shows how fruitful open-hearted dialogue can be. Although these two men have pursued their humane concerns and their quest for knowledge by different means, I believe they both reveal that it's not so important whether life has meaning, but whether we give meaning to the life we live." -- His Holiness The Dalai Lama
" The Monk and the Philosopher is an intellectual banquet -- an enlightening and lively encounter that explores man-kind's most profound questions." -- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"The wonderful thing about this book is that it shows how fruitful open-hearted dialogue can be. Although these two men have pursued their humane concerns and their quest for knowledge by different means, I believe they both reveal that it's not so important whether life has meaning, but whether we give meaning to the life we live." -- His Holiness The Dalai Lama
"The Monk and the Philosopher is an intellectual banquet -- an enlightening and lively encounter that explores man-kind's most profound questions." -- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
-The wonderful thing about this book is that it shows how fruitful open-hearted dialogue can be. Although these two men have pursued their humane concerns and their quest for knowledge by different means, I believe they both reveal that it's not so important whether life has meaning, but whether we give meaning to the life we live.- -- His Holiness The Dalai Lama
-The Monk and the Philosopher is an intellectual banquet -- an enlightening and lively encounter that explores man-kind's most profound questions.- -- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
From the Inside Flap
Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters.
Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred? Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life.
Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives.
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I have to confess that I was also apprehensive ordering from the US. I liked the service from the Marketplace seller. Great packaging and speedy delivery albeit over the Atlantic. Will be ordering from them again, thanks.
I like what he's thinking and doing for others and through this book it is possible for me to understand more about Buddhisms in comparison with the western Philosophy in this wonderful dialogue between him and his father.
So a culture at cross-purposes has been built up in the West. At times it has led to spiritual heartsickness and anxiety, the abandonment of hope that life has meaning. What people are left with on the whole is nihilism, the view that nothing exists except phenomena apparent to the senses, and that consciousness is an accidental product of matter, that one's mind does not survive death. Given the barren desert in which the spirit has to dwell, it seems courageous rather than merely materialistic that people just get on with trying to improve their standard of living, and it adds poignancy to the fascination with money and sex and celebrity, the recourse to entertainments and the love of sports.
This book, The Monk and the Philosopher, provides an antidote to the conflict between Western science and philosophy and traditional religion. It illustrates the highest possible vantage point from which to see meaning directly and simply, that is, a principial metaphysical tradition of wisdom, in this case, Buddhism.
The Monk and the Philosopher is a dialogue between a father who is an authority on Western philosophy (one of his books is entitled, From Thales to Kant) and a son who in his twenties took a doctorate in molecular biology at the Institut Pasteur and later became a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition.
From the very first exchange between father and son the book provides a surprising jolt of energy and clarity to the reader. Unnecessary things weighing on the mind fall away and one is welcomed into an invigorating world of essentials. The company of these two first rate minds, narrating the experiences of life that led them to the conclusions they hold - atheist humanism versus the view on the path toward Buddhist enlightenment, raises one's own capacity for "the examined life" that Socrates considered the only kind "worth living," and makes one feel the thrill of the mind working as a powerful instrument capable of cutting through sloth, avoidance and fuzziness to arrive at the threshold of a new awareness. (Like Keats, "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken").
These are conversational exchanges, challenging and harmonious, between a western philosophically and scientifically minded father and a son who has come out the other side of the scientific investigation of truth as residing exclusively in the deciphering of matter and has lived for thirty years with Tibetan Lamas, monks, nuns and lay people as an outstanding exponent of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. They are fascinating, civilized, candid, wise, funny, deeply tragic about Tibet, serene, and full of loving-kindness. The Frenchness of the two men is perhaps what contributes the "clear ideas", the capacity to express ideas with logical rigor at the same time as one is charming and entertaining one's interlocutor with the elegance and ease of one who knows the world and is able to maintain a healthy detachment from any sort of fanatical insistence upon one's standpoint. It is a family dialogue between a savant and a sage.
Certainly the deep compassion that radiates through the dialogue comes from the effect on both men, to one degree and another, of their privileged encounter with Tibetan Buddhist communities. Therein the experience of the worst that man can inflict upon his neighbor has been met with wisdom and compassion, so that the Tibetans are qualified to be the teachers of a western philosopher and a molecular biologist. What is profoundly admirable about these two brilliant companions in the search for truth is that they are eminently capable of learning from the wisdom and compassion of their Tibetan Buddhist friends.
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