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A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

by Matthieu Ricard

      Happiness, a 2 CD Sounds True audio, written and recorded by Matthieu Ricard, serves as an abbreviated version for his book of the same name. French Buddhist monk, and former cell biologist, Ricard, a cultured, sophisticated translator for the Dalai Lama, offers an introduction to a simple spiritual path, over basic Buddhist terrain, that will, he asserts, prove more gratifying than a more selfish pleasure seeking journey.

First Ricard tells us how we create our own unhappiness through misapprehension of reality, demonstrating how our notion of self is just a concept. Self, says Ricard, is not a separate entity as we believe. By protecting and trying to please this untrue fabrication, we create our own torment. Chronic selfishness and labels we make up about ourselves increase our suffering. To counteract this self-torture we can cultivate true Happiness, sukha, a balanced state of inner well-being, with awareness of how our minds work and freedom from afflictive emotions. By looking within, we learn to release mental toxins, transform our minds, and achieve inner peace which leads to deep happiness as a way of being.

As essentials to this passage to happiness, traditional Buddhist qualities are extolled. Egolessness, simplified life, meditation, non-attachment, equanimity, mindfulness, compassion, loving kindness and basic goodness will help us identify what matters, and give us a sense of direction.

Through meditation, we can begin to understand how it is not fearful to look within, to see how our minds work, and begin to experience genuine well-being. 20-30 minutes of morning meditation, Ricard asserts, gives your day a different flavor. Gradually you are making a deep transformation. Ricard even offers scientific proof that meditation translates into changes in brain stability, citing studies under the auspices of the Dalai Lama that validate differences observed in the brain after meditation, such as reinforced immune system, emotional balance, and negative emotion shifted to positive.

Ricardís unique accent, with its humorous emphasis on unusual syllables, makes the audio difficult to understand, which will either seem enchanting or annoying, If the listener is willing to expend the effort, Ricardís philosophy, with its jocular touch, can be hopeful and helpful.

The Book

Sounds True
Feb 2007
Audio CD
Non-fiction inspirational
More at
NOTE: Also available in hardcover / paperback. Book offers exercises and content not available on CD.

The Reviewer

Janet Hamilton
Reviewed 2007
© 2006