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Altruism ➶ [Reading] ➸ Altruism By Matthieu Ricard ➫ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk The author of the international bestseller Happiness makes a passionate case for altruism and why we need it now than ever In Happiness Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to The author of the international bestseller Happiness makes a passionate case for Altruism and why we need it now than ever In Happiness Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to fleeting moments or sensations but is an enduring state of soul rooted in mindfulness and compassion for others Now he turns his lens from the personal to the global with a rousing argument that Altruism genuine concern for the well being of others could be the saving grace of the st century It is he believes the vital thread that can answer the main challenges of our time the economy in the short term life satisfaction in the mid term and environment in the long term Ricard's message has been taken up by major economists and thinkers including Dennis Snower Amartya Sen Joseph Stiglitz and George Soros Matthieu Ricard makes a robust and passionate case for cultivating altruistic love and compassion as the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society It's a fresh outlook on an ardent struggle and one that just might make the world a better place.


10 thoughts on “Altruism

  1. Holly Holly says:

    This is the book that never ends It just goes on and on my friends Ricard is ultimately unconvincing but he makes some great observations on happiness Ricard insists that we are born altruistic yet spends the majority of the first half insisting that we can learn altruism and reiterating how we can do it with pretty good advice which defeats his point that it's inherent The second half of the book is completely irrelevant to altruism and is just a collection of research on how we can save the environment which is cool but not what I was looking to read Anyway this book literally took me two months to read so I just ended up supremely frustrated with it and I'm unlikely to pick up a big ass nonfiction tome for a while I actually have two chapters left and have put up this review to inspire myself to finish it today I'm too exhausted to even properly review this Three stars for the good parts Read it if it interests you I suppose


  2. Nancy Nancy says:

    I won this in a Goodreads giveawayThere was a lot to get through in this book but everything was relevant We all have the capacity for altruism as shown in the research the author presents With effort we can improve society with attention and cultivation of this


  3. Sharon Sharon says:

    There is a lot in this book to like andor dislike; if you are a devout meat eater you may not wish to read this book It gives insight into trying to be a better person for yourself your family and the planet There are many hidden agendas that are brought to the forefront by companies people and the government It also shows how far money changes people and how truly consumable a society we have become but only because we have been taught Truly a read that makes one think


  4. Andy Andy says:

    Altruism would have been to make this book a lot shorter As with all self help what matters is if it resonates Maybe this is the book you need now but it didn't do it for me I felt it lost the forest for the trees Be nice OK Nuff said That doesn't really take 864 pages I don't think the central point reuires all the scientifical and Buddhist stuff etc


  5. Deke Deke says:

    This book is only partly successful in that it successfully discusses how altruism can positively change an individual and by extension the world but it never successfully explains how this would be globally effective in modern society with sociopaths Ayn Rand devotees etc


  6. deleted d deleted d says:

    altruism makes you feel better and is a part of human behaviour


  7. Christopher Christopher says:

    Great concept but read like a textbook Would love the cliff notes version


  8. Michael Armijo Michael Armijo says:

    My dear friend Barbara Reynolds who now lives in Petaluma CA informed me in a handwritten letter that she’d seen Matthieu Ricard on some talk show and was intrigued about his book ALTRUISM It inspired me to order my own copy from com I’m glad I didThis book is almost like a text book about how to live a enriched and fulfilling life by being compassionate through love and sharing I loved the many lines and tips I received It took me a long time to read as I wanted to enrich myself slowly—as if experiencing a worthwhile meditation I strongly recommend this book to anyone It’s truly excellent YOU will get a lot of great advice from it while enriching yourself with a HAPPY lifeHere are some of the many excerptslines I was able to capture while readingEvery man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness –Martin Luther King JrThe Buddhist Vision Every human possesses and indestructible potential for goodness and enlightenmentLearning how to read or learning a musical instrument induces a restructuring in the brain at both the functional and structural levels This is also what happens when one trains in developing altruistic love and compassion“Altruism implies the elimination of selfish desire and of egocentrism as well as leading a life devoted to the well being of others” Auguste Comte“First they ignore you Then they laugh at you Then they fight you Finally you WIN” –GhandhiAltruistic love is characterized by unconditional kindness toward ALL BEINGS and is apt to be expressed at any time in favor of every being in particular“LOVE fears nothing and no one It cuts through the fear at is very root” –GhandiLack of LOVE of meaning of confidence in oneself and the absence of a clear direction in their lives weigh so heavily that it sometimes leads them to self destruction These extreme actions are a cry of despair a call for help a way of self expression for those who do not know how to find happiness or who have been prevented from doing so by the brutality of external conditions“If we practice an eye for an eye” said Ghandi “and a tooth for a tooth soon the whole world will be blind and toothless”The Seventh Dalai Lama wrote in the 18th CenturyIF THERE IS A WAY TO FREE OURSELVES FROM SUFFERINGWE MUST USE EVERY MOMENT TO FIND ITONLY A FOOL WANTS TO GO ON SUFFERINGISN’T IS SAD TO KNOWINGLY IMBIBE POISON?The word “empathy” refers to the ability to “feel the other from within”Affective empathy occurs when we enter into resonance with the situation and feelings of another person with the emotions that are shown by the person’s facial expressions gaze tone of voice body language and behavior“WAR is a monstrous lack of imagination” –Franz Kafka“Do NOT do unto others as you would have them done unto you They may have different tastes”—George Bernard Shaw“There are two kinds of pity One the weak and sentimental kind which is really no than the heart’s impatience to be rid as uickly as possible of the painful emotion aroused by the sight of another’s unhappiness; and the other the only kind that counts the unsentimental but creative kind which knows what it is about and is determined to hold out in patience and forbearance to the very limit of its strength and even beyond” –Stefan ZweigThe characteristics of the person who feels empathy will also have an influence If for example I am not subject to vertigo I will have trouble entering into empathic resonance with a person who is prey to that distress but that will not prevent me from being aware of the fact that the other needs help or comfortCOMPASSION is awareness of the other’s situation and is accompanied by the wish to relieve suffering and to procure the other’s happinessLove and Compassion are positive states of mind which reinforce one’s inner ability to confront others’ suffering and to care better for them If a child is hospitalized the presence of a loving mother at his side who holds his hand and comforts him with tender words will no doubt do him good than the anxiety of a mother overwhelmed with empathic distress who unable to bear the sight of her sick child paces back and forth in the hallway Positive emotions like joy contentment gratitude wonder enthusiasm inspiration and love have an additional dimension that is not reducible to neutrality of mind They are a source of profound satisfaction This implies that in order to flourish in life one must foster the blossoming of positive emotions“LOVE is the supreme emotion”—Barbara FredericksonDictionaries define love as “the inclination of one person for another” or as a “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties”“The Eskimos had fifty two names for snow because it was important to them there outhg to be as many for LOVE” –Margaret Atwood“LOVE is a positive resonance that manifests when three events occur simultaneously the sharing of one or several positive emotions a synchrony between the behavior and the physiological reactions of two people and the intention to contribute to the other’s well being an intention that engenders mutual care” –Barbara FredericksonScientific data has shown how LOVE or its absence fundamentally changes our physiology and the regulation of a group of biochemical substances substances that can even influence the way our genes are expressed in our cells This ensemble of complex interactions profoundly affects our physical health our vitality and our well beingStudies have now established that inhaling sprays of oxytocin made people confident generous cooperative sensitive to others’ emotions constructive in communications and charitable in their judgments Oxytocin plays an important role in “calming and connecting” in contrast to the “fight or flight” reflex To survive and prosper oxytocin was described by neurobiologists as “the great facilitator of life”Subjects who had practiced meditation felt love involvement in their daily activities serenity joy and other beneficial emotionsWhen you’re alone thinking about those you love reflecting on past loving connections yearning for or even when you’re practicing loving kindness meditation or writing an impassioned love letter you ARE NOT in the moment experiencing TRUE LOVE They are NOT yet shared and so they lack the critical and undeniably physical ingredient of resonance Physical presence is key to loveALL THE JOY THE WORLD CONTAINSHAS COME THROUGH WISHING HAPPINESS FOR OTHERSALL THE MISERY THE WORLD CONTAINSHAS COME THROUGH WANTING PLEASURE FOR ONESELF –Shantideva a 7th Century Indian Buddhist master in his work THE PATH TOWARDS AWAKENINGThe true altruist is one who never hopes for a reward He responds to the needs of others out of his natural compassion Cause and effect are unfailing so his actions to benefit others are sure to bear fruit—but he never counts on it” Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Tibetan MasterHarmful mental states always tend to distance us a little from that feeling of harmony with oneself” French philosopher Michel Terestchenko calls it “fidelity to self”I actually think that humans are instrinsically good You always have to see the good the beautiful in a person never deny always look for the greatness of people without any distinction of religion caste or way of thinking” –Father CeyracAltruism can be thought of as heroic when It has the aim of helping someone elseIt involves a major risk or sacrificeIt is not linked to a reward;It is voluntary“It is tempting if the only tool you have is hammer to treat everything as if it were a nail” Abraham Malsow cautions“We are selfish because the only thing we really want is to have pleasant experiences to prolong them and to avoid or curtail unpleasant experiences” –John Stuart Mill English philosopher“I didn’t have a choice” Margot a woman who had taken considerable risks to protect Jews persecuted by the Nazis explained it this way “Suppose somebody drowns If you stop to think ‘Shall I? Shall I not? Eeny meeny miney mo” You can’t do that You either help or you don’t You don’t walk away You don’t walk away from somebody who needs real help”The Dalai Lama often says that love is natural than hatredsince from birth to death we all need in welfare and others In general he adds we feel “good” when we show kindness to others and “bad” when we harm others“I always knew that deep down in every human heart there is mercy and generosity No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes naturally to the human heart that its opposite Even in the grimmest times in prison when my comrades and I were pusched to our limits I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards perhaps just for a second but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going HUMAN goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished” NELSON MANDELLAAN OLD CHEROKEE GIVING ADVICE TO HIS GRANDSON“A fight is going on inside me” he said to the boy “It is a terrible fight between two wolves One is EVIL he is hatred anger greed envy arrogance grudge resentment miserliness and cowardliness The other is GOOD—he is happiness joy serenity love kindness compassion hope humility generosity truthfulness and confidence They are also fighting inside you and inside every other person too”THE CHILD thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather “Which wolf will win?The old Cherokee simply replied “The one you feed”“KIN SELECTION” – All those who are genetically related In fact the sister of a given individual has an average of 50% of genes in common with him; a first cousin 25% a niece 125% and so on“We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes” Richard DawkinsFour parental attitudes that are the most apt to favor altruistic behavior in children expressing affection acting in an altruistic way oneself thereby serving as an example making children aware of the impact of their actions on others providing children with the opportunity to be useful to others“IF you teach me something I’ll forget it; if you show me something I might remember it; if you make me do something I will put it into practice” –CONFUCIUSThe love and tenderness that children receive in early childhood profoundly influence the rest of their livesKindness is one of the most powerful determinants of a feeling of accomplishment and contentmentDefining BENEVOLENCE “It’s neither genius nor glory nor love that measures the loftiness of the human soul; it’s benevolence” –Henri LacordaireScientific research in the field of neuroplasticity shows that any form of training leads to a reconfiguring in the brain on both the functional and structural levels Society and its institutions influence and condition individuals As this interaction continues over the course of generations culture and individuals mutually shape each other“We all share the same human nature feel the same emotions of joy and sadness benevolence or anger and are all trying to avoid suffering Thus as human beings we are basically the same” The Dalai LamaNeuroplasticity is a term that takes into account the fact that the brain changes constantly when an individual is exposed to new situationsIn 1997 Fred Gage placed rats alone in an empty box for a month in which they had nothing to do except eat once a day Then he transferred them to a veritable DISNEYLAND for rats with tunnels wheels pools and various climbing elements as well as other rats to keep them company The repercussions of this transfer on the brain were surprising In forty five days the hippocampus area of the brain associated with learning new skills increased 15% in volume even among the older rats going on aerage from 270000 neurons to 317000 neurons Until one dies new neurons continue to form in certain regions of the human brain up to 1000 per day This is occurring throughout life Six types of MEDITATION focused attention altruistic love combined with compassion open presence visualization of mental images fearlessness devotionResearch has shown that a few weeks of MEDITATION at the rate of thirty minutes a day induced significant changes in cerebral activity the immune system one’s uality of attention and many other parametersPeople have control of their emotions behave altruistically than those who do not A free serene mind is likely to consider painful situations and the suffering of others from an altruistic point of view than a mind constantly disturbed by internal conflicts and preoccupied with its own reactions fear anxiety anger etcTo MEDITATE on altruistic love you should start by realizing that deep down you want to avoid suffering and you wish for happiness This step is especially important for those who have a negative image of themselves and have suffered a lot and who thing they are not meant to be happy Give rise to a welcoming tolerant kind attitude toward yourself; decide that from now on you wish the best for yourselfOnce you have recognized this aspiration you then have to realize that it is shared by all beings Acknowledge our interdependence The shirt you wear the glass you drink from the house you live in—all these are possible only thanks to the activity of countless others The simplest object in your everyday life is filled with the presence of others Reflect on the origin of the white sheet of paper on which you write Imagine the lumberjack who cut down the tree the paper factory worker the truck driver the shopkeeper; like any of us they all have a life with joys and sufferings parents and friends They all share our humanity; none of them wants to suffer This awareness should make us feel closer to all these beings to feel empathy for them to be concerned about their fate and to wish them wellIt is easier to begin training in altruistic love by thinking about someone dear to you Imagine a smiling child coming up to us and looking at us happily trustingly full of innocence You pat the child’s head look at it tenderly and take it in your arms as you feel unconditional love and kindness Let yourself be complete filled with his love which wants nothing but the happiness of this child Remain for a few moments in full awareness of this love without any other thoughts THEN extend these loving thoughts to people you know less well and to strangers“To love is to find pleasure in the happiness of others Thus the habit of loving someone is nothing other than the benevolence by which we want the good of others not for the profit that we gain from it but because it is agreeable to us in itself” –LeibnizWhen you breathe OUT think that your heart is a brilliant sphere of light from which rays of white light carry your happiness to all being all over the world When you breathe IN take their sufferings on yourself in the form of a dense black cloud which penetrates your heart and dissolves into white light without leaving a traceA number of experiments showing that feeling connected to others increases our psychological well being and physical health and diminishes the risk of depression The feeling of connection and belonging to a wider community also increases empathy and fosters behavior based on trust and cooperationTAKING CONTROL OF ONE’S LIFE – Let’s take the example of a sailor on his boat his freedom does not consist in letting his boat drift at the mercy of the winds and currents—in that case he wouldn’t be navigating but drifting—but in being master of this boat taking the tiller trimming his sails and navigating in the direction he has chosenFORGET about self esteem and concentrate on self control and self disciplineAuthentic self confidence is born from a feeling of balance with oneself based on a peaceful strength that is not threatened by external circumstances or inner fears a freedom beyond fascination with image and fear of losing it” –Christophe AndreGOD did not create you so you’d be like everyone elseWHAT MAKES ME SO SPECIAL? What is the difference between me and everyone else that justifies placing myself in this special category? Am I intelligent? Do I enjoy my life ? Are my accomplishments greater? Do I have needs or abilities that are so different from the needs or abilities of others? In short what makes me so special? Failing an answer it turns out that Ethical Egoism is an arbitrary doctrine in the same way that racism is arbitrary And this in addition to explaining why Ethical Egoism is unacceptable also sheds some light on the uestion of why we should care for others We should care for the interest of other people for the same reason we care for our own interests; for their needs and desires are comparable to our own –James Rachels American philosopherBasically kindness and compassion for oneself comes down to asking oneself “What is really good for me?”The psychologist Heinz Kohut insisted on the idea that to feel that one belongs is one of the main aspirations of human beings One of the major causes for mental health problems is the feeling of being cut off from others To reinforce the feeling of being connected to the world and to all beings Paul Gilbert suggests to his patients visualizations like this “I would like you to IMAGINE a sea in front of you that is a beautiful blue is warm and calm lapping on a sandy shore Imagine that you are standing just in the water with the water lapping gently at your feet Now as you look out over the sea to the horizon imagine that this sea has been here for millions of years was a source of life It has seen many things in the history of life and knows many things Now imagine the sea has complete acceptance for you that it knows of your struggles and pain Allow yourself to feel connected to the sea its power and wisdom in complete acceptance of you”Once one has established a better relationship with oneself it becomes easier to feel kindness and compassion for othersResearch on forgiveness in particular has shown that an important stage in the process of forgiveness consisted of replacing anger with empathy Empath is a vital component of our humanity Without it we have difficulty giving meaning to our existence connecting to others and finding emotional balance We can also drift toward indifference coldness and crueltyViolence is often used by humans and animals to obtain food reproduce defend themselves conuer or protect a territory or assert one’s authority or hierarchical rank“People don’t change because of a magic touch They grow” –Wilbert Rideau“You have to do it on your own I don’t know of any powerful way to change people than education” –Wilbert RideauAfter two decades of studies on the influence of television researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated that TV viewers who constantly watch negative actions show an increased tendency to act in the same way and that the one watches television the inclined one is to thing that people are selfish and would deceive us at the first opportunityand there is MUCH MORE but I have no characters left


  9. Naomi Naomi says:

    A looooooooooooooong read but full of fine gems and things to discuss debate and consider


  10. Karl Karl says:

    I finished this over a month ago However I wanted to take the time to formulate a review because it's SO good In all fairness I didn't technically read it but rather listened thanks HooplaSt Louis County Library As such I don't have an easy way to reference uotes etcThat said he mentions several times in the book wanting to present an overview of Altruism If 800 pages or a 30 hour audio book counts as an overview I can't imagine what he thinks of as in depthRicard touches on not just altruism in a spiritualreligious sense but EVERYTHING else He speaks on politics economics environment science which he is than ualified to do as he has a PhD in molecular genetics and One of these days I'd like to readlisten to of his works because he not only presented the issues but he also presented solutions I would highly recommend taking the time again 30 hour audio book to listen to this book


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