Matthieu Ricard, born in France in 1946, trained as a molecular biologist at the prestigious Institute Pasteur before trading in his lab coat for the robes of a Tibetan Buddhist monk in 1972. In 1975, Ricard became the close student and attendant of revered master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and traveled with him in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Tibet until Khyentse Rinpoche’s passing in 1991. The author of several books, including The Quantum and the Lotus and Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill, Ricard lives in Shechen Monastery in Nepal.
During one of his frequent visits to New York, I had the opportunity to speak with Ricard about karma, a foundational Buddhist concept that is often invoked in Western culture but rarely well understood.
A lot of people think of karma in terms of “What did I do to deserve this?” It implies a notion of fate or cosmic justice. This is a view that is inspired by the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Buddhism, there is no notion of an external entity judging our actions and bestowing punishment or reward.
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