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The Journey from Personal Transformation to Societal Change
February 4, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Matthieu Ricard in conversation with Shanny Peer and Fanny Guex
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After so long under lockdown, what better lunch companion than the “happiest man in the world”? Matthieu Ricard, a biologist-turned-Buddhist, French interpreter to the Dalai Lama, will join us to talk about his personal journey from France to the Himalaya Mountains, his encounter with Buddhism, the practice of meditation and its link to photography, and finally the climate crisis.
Our era is confronted with many challenges: during the Anthropocene (“era of humans”), for the first time in history, human activities are profoundly modifying (and currently degrading) the entire system that maintains life on earth. Evaluating the capacities for both individual and collective transformation is important if we want to encourage the development of a more altruistic society and a better world. In this conversation, we will examine how we go from personal transformation to societal change.
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author, translator, and photographer. Born in France in 1946 as the son of French philosopher Jean-François Revel and artist Yahne Le Toumelin, he first visited India in 1967 where he met great spiritual masters from Tibet. After completing his Ph.D. degree in cell genetics in 1972, he moved to the Himalayan region where he has been living for the past 45 years. Matthieu Ricard founded Karuna-Shechen in 2000, an organization that provides health care, education, and social services for the under-served people of India, Nepal, and Tibet. He published many books, among others: The Monk and the Philosopher with his father, Beyond the Self: Conversations between Buddhism and Neuroscience with Wolf Singer, and more recently Freedom for All of US with Christophe André and Alexandre Jollien in November 2020.
Shanny Peer has been Director of the Columbia Maison Française since 2009. She earned a Ph.D. from New York University’s Institute of French Studies and taught French Studies for ten years. Shanny is currently also pursuing a passionate commitment to learning more about climate change, and working towards an M.A. in Climate and Society at Columbia’s Earth Institute.
Fanny Guex joined the Columbia Maison Française in 2019. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, she obtained a Ph.D. in the History of Religions with a dissertation dealing with travel literature, intercultural encounters and the circulation of knowledge. In parallel to her academic training, Fanny has always been enthusiastic about visual arts and travelling.