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  • So, I guess it is a result of globalization

  • that you can find Coca-Cola tins on top of Everest

  • and a Buddhist monk in Monterey.

  • (Laughter)

  • And so I just came, two days ago, from the Himalayas

  • to your kind invitation.

  • So I would like to invite you, also, for a while, to the Himalayas themselves.

  • And to show the place where meditators, like me,

  • who began with being a molecular biologist in Pasteur Institute,

  • and found their way to the mountains.

  • So these are a few images I was lucky to take and be there.

  • There's Mount Kailash in Eastern Tibet -- wonderful setting.

  • This is from Marlboro country.

  • (Laughter)

  • This is a turquoise lake.

  • A meditator.

  • This is the hottest day of the year somewhere in Eastern Tibet, on August 1.

  • And the night before, we camped, and my Tibetan friends said,

  • "We are going to sleep outside."

  • And I said, "Why? We have enough space in the tent."

  • They said, "Yes, but it's summertime."

  • (Laughter)

  • So now, we are going to speak of happiness.

  • As a Frenchman, I must say

  • that there are a lot of French intellectuals

  • that think happiness is not at all interesting.

  • (Laughter)

  • I just wrote an essay on happiness, and there was a controversy.

  • And someone wrote an article saying,

  • "Don't impose on us the dirty work of happiness."

  • (Laughter)

  • "We don't care about being happy. We need to live with passion.

  • We like the ups and downs of life.

  • We like our suffering because it's so good when it ceases for a while."

  • (Laughter)

  • This is what I see from the balcony of my hermitage in the Himalayas.

  • It's about two meters by three, and you are all welcome any time.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, let's come to happiness or well-being.

  • And first of all, you know, despite what the French intellectuals say,

  • it seems that no one wakes up in the morning thinking,

  • "May I suffer the whole day?"

  • (Laughter)

  • Which means that somehow, consciously or not,

  • directly or indirectly, in the short or the long term,

  • whatever we do, whatever we hope, whatever we dream --

  • somehow, is related to a deep, profound desire for well-being or happiness.

  • As Pascal said, even the one who hangs himself,

  • somehow, is looking for cessation of suffering.

  • He finds no other way.

  • But then, if you look in the literature, East and West,

  • you can find incredible diversity of definition of happiness.

  • Some people say, I only believed in remembering the past,

  • imagining the future, never the present.

  • Some people say happiness is right now;

  • it's the quality of the freshness of the present moment.

  • And that led Henri Bergson, the French philosopher, to say,

  • "All the great thinkers of humanity have left happiness in the vague

  • so that each of them could define their own terms."

  • Well, that would be fine if it was just a secondary preoccupation in life.

  • But now, if it is something that is going to determine

  • the quality of every instant of our life,

  • then we better know what it is, have some clearer idea.

  • And probably, the fact that we don't know that is why, so often,

  • although we seek happiness, it seems we turn our back to it.

  • Although we want to avoid suffering,

  • it seems we are running somewhat towards it.

  • And that can also come from some kind of confusions.

  • One of the most common ones is happiness and pleasure.

  • But if you look at the characteristics of those two,

  • pleasure is contingent upon time, upon its object,

  • upon the place.

  • It is something that -- changes of nature.

  • Beautiful chocolate cake: first serving is delicious,

  • second one not so much, then we feel disgust.

  • (Laughter)

  • That's the nature of things.

  • We get tired.

  • I used to be a fan of Bach.

  • I used to play it on the guitar, you know.

  • I can hear it two, three, five times.

  • If I had to hear it 24 hours, non-stop, it might be very tiring.

  • If you are feeling very cold, you come near a fire, it's so wonderful.

  • After some moments, you just go a little back,

  • and then it starts burning.

  • It sort of uses itself as you experience it.

  • And also, again, it can -- also, it's something that you --

  • it is not something that is radiating outside.

  • Like, you can feel intense pleasure

  • and some others around you can be suffering a lot.

  • Now, what, then, will be happiness?

  • And happiness, of course, is such a vague word, so let's say well-being.

  • And so, I think the best definition, according to the Buddhist view,

  • is that well-being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation.

  • It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment.

  • A state that actually pervades

  • and underlies all emotional states,

  • and all the joys and sorrows that can come one's way.

  • For you, that might be surprising.

  • Can we have this kind of well-being while being sad?

  • In a way, why not?

  • Because we are speaking of a different level.

  • Look at the waves coming near the shore.

  • When you are at the bottom of the wave, you hit the bottom.

  • You hit the solid rock.

  • When you are surfing on the top, you are all elated.

  • So you go from elation to depression -- there's no depth.

  • Now, if you look at the high sea,

  • there might be beautiful, calm ocean, like a mirror.

  • There might be storms,

  • but the depth of the ocean is still there, unchanged.

  • So now, how is that?

  • It can only be a state of being, not just a fleeting emotion, sensation.

  • Even joy -- that can be the spring of happiness.

  • But there's also wicked joy, you can rejoice in someone's suffering.

  • So how do we proceed in our quest for happiness?

  • Very often, we look outside.

  • We think that if we could gather this and that, all the conditions,

  • something that we say, "Everything to be happy --

  • to have everything to be happy."

  • That very sentence already reveals the doom, destruction of happiness.

  • To have everything.

  • If we miss something, it collapses.

  • And also, when things go wrong, we try to fix the outside so much,

  • but our control of the outer world is limited,

  • temporary, and often, illusory.

  • So now, look at inner conditions.

  • Aren't they stronger?

  • Isn't it the mind that translates

  • the outer condition into happiness and suffering?

  • And isn't that stronger?

  • We know, by experience,

  • that we can be what we call "a little paradise,"

  • and yet, be completely unhappy within.

  • The Dalai Lama was once in Portugal,

  • and there was a lot of construction going on everywhere.

  • So one evening, he said, "Look, you are doing all these things,

  • but isn't it nice, also, to build something within?"

  • And he said, "[Without] that -- even if you get a high-tech flat

  • on the 100th floor of a super-modern and comfortable building,

  • if you are deeply unhappy within,

  • all you are going to look for is a window from which to jump."

  • So now, at the opposite,

  • we know a lot of people who, in very difficult circumstances,

  • manage to keep serenity, inner strength, inner freedom, confidence.

  • So now, if the inner conditions are stronger --

  • of course, the outer conditions do influence,

  • and it's wonderful to live longer, healthier,

  • to have access to information, education,

  • to be able to travel, to have freedom.

  • It's highly desirable.

  • However, this is not enough.

  • Those are just auxiliary, help conditions.

  • The experience that translates everything is within the mind.

  • So then, when we ask oneself

  • how to nurture the condition for happiness,

  • the inner conditions, and which are those which will undermine happiness.

  • So then, this just needs to have some experience.

  • We have to know from ourselves, there are certain states of mind

  • that are conducive to this flourishing, to this well-being,

  • what the Greeks called eudaimonia, flourishing.

  • There are some which are adverse to this well-being.

  • And so, if we look from our own experience,

  • anger, hatred, jealousy, arrogance,

  • obsessive desire, strong grasping,

  • they don't leave us in such a good state after we have experienced it.

  • And also, they are detrimental to others' happiness.

  • So we may consider that the more those are invading our mind,

  • and, like a chain reaction,

  • the more we feel miserable, we feel tormented.

  • At the opposite, everyone knows deep within

  • that an act of selfless generosity,

  • if from the distance, without anyone knowing anything about it,

  • we could save a child's life, make someone happy.

  • We don't need the recognition. We don't need any gratitude.

  • Just the mere fact of doing that

  • fills such a sense of adequation with our deep nature.

  • And we would like to be like that all the time.

  • So is that possible,

  • to change our way of being, to transform one's mind?

  • Aren't those negative emotions, or destructive emotions,

  • inherent to the nature of mind?

  • Is change possible in our emotions, in our traits, in our moods?

  • For that we have to ask, what is the nature of mind?

  • And if we look from the experiential point of view,

  • there is a primary quality of consciousness

  • that's just the mere fact to be cognitive, to be aware.

  • Consciousness is like a mirror that allows all images to rise on it.

  • You can have ugly faces, beautiful faces in the mirror.

  • The mirror allows that, but the mirror is not tainted,

  • is not modified, is not altered by those images.

  • Likewise, behind every single thought

  • there is the bare consciousness, pure awareness.

  • This is the nature.

  • It cannot be tainted intrinsically with hatred or jealousy because then,

  • if it was always there --

  • like a dye that would permeate the whole cloth --

  • then it would be found all the time, somewhere.

  • We know we're not always angry, always jealous, always generous.

  • So, because the basic fabric of consciousness

  • is this pure cognitive quality that differentiates it from a stone,

  • there is a possibility for change because all emotions are fleeting.

  • That is the ground for mind training.

  • Mind training is based on the idea that two opposite mental factors

  • cannot happen at the same time.

  • You could go from love to hate.

  • But you cannot, at the same time, toward the same object,

  • the same person, want to harm and want to do good.

  • You cannot, in the same gesture, shake hand and give a blow.

  • So, there are natural antidotes to emotions

  • that are destructive to our inner well-being.

  • So that's the way to proceed.

  • Rejoicing compared to jealousy.

  • A kind of sense of inner freedom

  • as opposite to intense grasping and obsession.

  • Benevolence, loving kindness against hatred.

  • But, of course, each emotion then would need a particular antidote.

  • Another way is to try to find a general antidote to all emotions,

  • and that's by looking at the very nature.

  • Usually, when we feel annoyed, hatred or upset with someone,

  • or obsessed with something,

  • the mind goes again and again to that object.

  • Each time it goes to the object,

  • it reinforces that obsession or that annoyance.

  • So then, it's a self-perpetuating process.

  • So what we need to look for now is,

  • instead of looking outward, we look inward.

  • Look at anger itself.

  • It looks very menacing,

  • like a billowing monsoon cloud or thunderstorm.

  • We think we could sit on the cloud,

  • but if you go there, it's just mist.

  • Likewise, if you look at the thought of anger,

  • it will vanish like frost under the morning sun.

  • If you do this again and again, the propensity,

  • the tendencies for anger to arise again

  • will be less and less each time you dissolve it.

  • And, at the end, although it may rise,

  • it will just cross the mind,

  • like a bird crossing the sky without leaving any track.

  • So this is the principal of mind training.

  • Now, it takes time,

  • because it took time for all those faults in our mind, the tendencies, to build up,

  • so it will take time to unfold them as well.

  • But that's the only way to go.

  • Mind transformation -- that is the very meaning of meditation.

  • It means familiarization with a new way of being,

  • new way of perceiving things,

  • which is more in adequation with reality,

  • with interdependence, with the stream and continuous transformation,

  • which our being and our consciousness is.