Tag Archives: buddhist

The Compassionate Brain.

My current main themes for contemplation are all revolving around awareness and the way we can choose where and how to focus our attention. You can see the world as revolving around you and take everything personally, or you can decide that other people have their own issues and problems and that their actions, however annoying at times, might be coming from the same place as your own frustrations and worries.

Matthieu Ricard.

Matthieu Ricard.

Compassion is not just some high-minded flaky concept that Buddhist monks and New Age hippies bandy about, it’s a very practical way to operate in a world that is incredibly stressful for just about everyone. So says Matthieu Ricard, a former molecular geneticist and buddhist monk, also known as the happiest man in the world. With functional brain scanning technology it is now possible to see what is going on in the brain as it happens, Ricard was hooked up to one of these machines and asked to meditate on compassion. There was an increase in gamma rays which are associated with consciousness, attention, learning and memory. There was also a lot of activity in his left prefrontal cortex which indicates a huge capacity for happiness, this man is very unlikely to making negative choices about his experience. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/10/29/buddhist-monk-declared-worlds-happiest-man/

There is so much evidence these days that shows that we can change our neurology, and the good news is that you don’t have to spend hours in meditation every day to do it. Whatever time you can find for that kind of activity will be time well spent, but it’s also about the myriad of choices that you make every day about how you are going to perceive your current experience. Keep making positive choices and that positivity will begin to accumulate and eventually you will begin to change your default settings to happiness and joy.


This video is an excerpt from a speech made to a graduating class of college students in America and is a refreshing take on what education is all about, it’s exactly the sort of thing that ought to be taught in schools. It manages not only to convey meaning most concisely, it’s also very entertaining and if you are interested you can check out the whole speech.

Video (09:23)



Everything Is Sacred.

I watched the most amazing film tonight, about a musician whose name I’ve always been aware of but whom I knew nothing about. Just hearing his music in this documentary began to inspire me, poetic lyrics talking about philosophy, politics, society, coming straight from the heart. “Well just climb up on my music, and my songs will set you free, well just climb up on my music, and from there jump off with me.”  I definitely need to buy an album and get to know it better, the man is Rodriguez and his story is quite incredible, I had tears running down my face as I watched parts of this film.


His albums did absolutely nothing in America at the beginning of the seventies and so he went back to being a construction worker in Detroit. In the meanwhile his music somehow made its way over to South Africa where it inspired a whole generation of South Africans who hated apartheid, and who were searching for inspiration to change the system. Apparently he was bigger over there at that time than The Rolling Stones! But no-one knew anything about the man himself, and over twenty years later a music journalist discovered that their hero, whom they thought was dead, was still living in Detroit working at heavy labour.

It’s like a modern fairytale, Rodriguez went to South Africa and played to huge stadiums of fans, then went back to Detroit and his work. What impressed me more than anything else was his equanimity, whether he was playing to hordes of adoring fans, or going in to clean up a construction site, there was an acceptance of where he was and what he was doing. The Buddhists talk about bringing the quality of meditation into everything that they do, from the most extraordinary tasks to the most mundane. From what I saw of Rodriguez he is a master in this practice, he doesn’t give much away so I guess it’s hard to know what might really be going on inside. But there is a grace and ease in his body language, even as you can see pain in the movement, and to me that signals acceptance and surrender more than any words ever could.

I saw a man who brings a sense of the sacred to everything that he does, and surely that is something we can all aspire to, I know that I do. The most inspiring people are the ones who are in their fullness doing what they have come here to do, but who manage at the same time to be quite ordinary. Living an ordinary life in an extraordinary way!

Here’s the trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL5TffdOQ7g

And here is one of his songs, Cause, from the album, Coming From Reality: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKFkc19T3Dk