Matthieu Ricard
माथ्यु रिका
Born15 February 1946 (1946-02-15) (age 77)
Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France
EducationPasteur Institute
(PhD molecular genetics)
Senior posting
TeacherKangyur Rinpoche
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Matthieu Ricard (French pronunciation: ​[matjø ʁikaʁ]; Nepali: माथ्यु रिका, born 15 February 1946) is a French writer, photographer, translator and Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal.

Matthieu Ricard grew up among the personalities and ideas of French intellectual circles. He received a PhD degree in molecular genetics from the Pasteur Institute in 1972. He then decided to forsake his scientific career and instead practice Tibetan Buddhism, living mainly in the Himalayas.

Ricard is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute. He received the French National Order of Merit for his humanitarian work in the East with Karuna-Shechen, the non-profit organization he co-founded in 2000 with Rabjam Rinpoche. Since 1989, he has acted as the French interpreter for the 14th Dalai Lama. Since 2010, he has been travelling and giving a series of talks with and assisting in teachings by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the incarnation of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.


Matthieu Ricard and the Dalai Lama in 2000

Born in Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France, he is the son of the late Jean-François Revel (born Jean-François Ricard), a renowned French philosopher. His mother is the lyrical abstractionist painter and Tibetan Buddhist nun Yahne the Toumelin. Matthieu Ricard grew up among the personalities and ideas of French intellectual circles.[1]

Ricard worked for a PhD degree in molecular genetics at the Pasteur Institute under French Nobel Laureate François Jacob. After completing his doctoral thesis in 1972, Ricard decided to forsake his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.[2]

Ricard then went to India where he lived in the Himalayas studying with the Kangyur Rinpoche and some other teachers of that tradition. He became a close student and friend of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until Rinpoche's death in 1991. Since then, Ricard has dedicated his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche's vision.[3]

Ricard has been called the "happiest person in the world".[4][5] Matthieu Ricard was a volunteer subject in a study performed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on happiness, scoring significantly above the average of hundreds of volunteers.[4] Ricard, however, has called the label "absurd" and untrue.[6]

He co-authored a study on the brains of long-term meditators, including himself, who had undergone a minimum of three years in retreat.[7]

Ricard is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, which is devoted to meetings and collaborative research between scientists, Buddhist scholars and meditators, his contributions have appeared in Destructive Emotions (edited by Daniel Goleman) and other books of essays. He is engaged in research on the effect of mind training on the brain, in various institutions, including Madison-Wisconsin, Princeton and Berkeley universities[2] in the United States, the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany,[8] the University of Liège in Belgium,[9] and at the Inserm centres of Lyon and Caen in France.[10]


Ricard's photographs of the spiritual masters, the landscape, and the people of the Himalayas have appeared in numerous books and magazines. Henri Cartier-Bresson has said of his work, "Matthieu's camera and his spiritual life make one, and from this springs these images, fleeting and eternal."[11]

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 30 January 2009 – Matthieu Ricard works on a laptop during the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

He is the author and photographer of Tibet, An Inner Journey and Monk Dancers of Tibet and, in collaboration, the photobooks Buddhist Himalayas, Journey to Enlightenment and Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas. He is the translator of numerous Buddhist texts, including The Life of Shabkar.

The dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher, was a best seller in Europe and was translated into 21 languages, and The Quantum and the Lotus (coauthored with Trinh Xuan Thuan) reflects his long-standing interest in science and Buddhism. His 2003 book Plaidoyer pour the bonheur (published in English in 2006 as Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill)[12] explores the meaning and fulfillment of happiness and was a major best-seller in France.

In June 2015, the English translation of Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World was published and excerpted as the cover story of Spirituality & Health Magazine [1].

Ricard is the also the author of Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion, Between Scientists, Economists, and the Dalai Lama (forthcoming 2015).[13]

Awards and other activities

Ricard received the French National Order of Merit for his humanitarian work in the East. He donates all proceeds from his books and conferences, as well as much of his time to over 200 humanitarian projects in Nepal, India and Tibet ( which serve over 300,000 beneficiaries every year in the fields of health care, education and social service. He is also active for the preservation of the Himalayan cultural heritage ( Since 1989, he has acted as the French interpreter for the Dalai Lama.[1]

Ricard has spoken on many international forums, including the World Happiness Forum, [2] the United-Nations (as part of the Gross National Happiness resolution[14][15] proposed by Bhutan), conferences held in Sydney, London, San Francisco and Singapore,[16] the Global Economic Symposium,[17] The World Government Summit[18] and other venues. He has been invited ten times to the World Economic Forum.[19]

Personal meditation practice

Ricard uses three types of meditation: compassion, open awareness, and analytic.[20] He has spent a total of 5 years in solitary meditation, largely in a remote mountain hut.[20]


Ricard is a vegan.[20] He promotes veganism and animal rights, on which he wrote his 2016 book A Plea for the Animals.[21]


Essays and books

Translation works



  1. ^ a b Buddhist monk is the world's happiest man, Daily News America, 29 October 2012, archived from the original on 2 November 2012, retrieved 2 November 2012
  2. ^ a b Chalmers, Robert. "Matthieu Ricard: Meet Mr Happy". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. ^ Brussat, Frederick; Brussat, Mary Ann. "Guru Yoga An Oral Teaching by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche". Spirituality & Practice. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Chalmers, Robert (18 February 2007), "Matthieu Ricard: Meet Mr Happy – Profiles, People", The Independent, retrieved 25 June 2013
  5. ^ "The pursuit of happiness – Relationships – Life & Style Home", The Brisbane Times, 8 May 2008, retrieved 25 June 2013
  6. ^ The World's Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn't Call Him That
  7. ^ Antoine Lutz; Lawrence L. Greischar; Nancy B. Rawlings; Matthieu Ricard; Richard J. Davidson (16 November 2004), "Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice", PNAS, 101 (46): 16369–73, Bibcode:2004PNAS..10116369L, doi:10.1073/pnas.0407401101, PMC 526201, PMID 15534199
  8. ^ "Department of Neuroscience".
  9. ^ "Liège: the CHU explore the cerveau du moine Matthieu Ricard en méditation" (in French). 15 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Pardonnez-moi – Matthieu Ricard". (in French).
  11. ^ Magill, Mark (2005). "Beauty Beyond Beauty: A Portfolio by Matthieu Ricard". tricycle.
  12. ^ Ricard, Matthieu (2006), Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill (9780316057837): Matthieu Ricard: Books, ISBN 978-0316057837
  13. ^ "Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion, Between Scientists, Economists, and the Dalai Lama". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Happiness – Transforming the Development Landscape" (PDF).
  15. ^ Williamson, Mark (11 April 2012). "The serious business of creating a happier world". The Guardian.
  16. ^ World Happiness Forum – speakers,, 17 June 2011, archived from the original on 6 June 2013, retrieved 25 June 2013
  17. ^ "Global Economic Symposium : Redefining Success".
  18. ^ "2018 Sessions of the WGS".
  19. ^ "Agenda Contributor to the WEF".
  20. ^ a b c "10% Happier with Dan Harris by ABC News on Apple Podcasts". iTunes.
  21. ^ Bekoff, Marc (26 September 2016). "Matthieu Ricard's 'A Plea for the Animals' Is A Must Read: A Wonderful Celebration Of World Animal Day 2016". HuffPost.