THE MONK AND THE PHILOSOPHER: EAST MEETS WEST IN A FATHER-SON DIALOGUE

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9780722536490: THE MONK AND THE PHILOSOPHER: EAST MEETS WEST IN A FATHER-SON DIALOGUE

Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters.

Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred? Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life.

Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives.

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Review:

The Monk and the Philosopher is a collection of father-son dialogues between Jean-François Revel, a French philosopher and journalist famous for his leadership in protests of both Christianity and Communism, and Matthieu Ricard, his son, who gave up a promising career as a scientist to become a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas. The conversations recorded in this book took place during 10 days at an inn in Katmandu. The range of their subjects is immense: What is Buddhism? Why does it have such appeal to many in the West? Why do Buddhists believe in reincarnation? What are the differences between Buddhist and Christian monastic life? How do science and individualism make authentic Buddhist practice difficult for Westerners to achieve? Despite the simplicity of many of these questions, Revel and Ricard never give simplistic answers. Their discussions are rich without being dense, and, even more notably, they take every question very personally. The result is a book perfectly suited as an introduction to the elements of Buddhist religion (with a good bit of Tibetan history thrown in) that is also an excellent description of what it has been like for one man (Ricard) to practice Buddhist faith. However, as Ricard wisely notes at the end of this book, "No dialogue, however enlightening it might be, could ever be a substitute for the silence of personal experience, so indispensable for an understanding of how things really are." The greatest strength of The Monk and the Philosopher may be its power to return readers to careful attention to the way we pass our days. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Publisher:

"The wonderful thing about this book is that it shows how fruitful open-hearted dialogue can be. Although these two men have pursued their humane converns and their quest for knowledge by different means, I believe they both reveal that it's not so important whether life has meaning, but whether we give meaning to the live we live. "
--His Holiness The Dalai Lama

"The Monk and Philosopher combines three kinds of confrontation, each fascinating in its own way. East meets West, religion meets science, and son meets father. Americans who found themselves caught up in the human warmth and combative energy of My Dinner with Andre will respond in the same way to this endlesly engaging encounter."
--Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

"It Is fascinating to listen in as a great philosopher and his Buddhist son debate what is fast becoming the most critical issue of the 21st Century: rationalism versus religion."
--Tom Wolfe

"The Monk and the Philosopher is an intellectual banquet--an enlightening and lively encounter that explores mankind's most profound questions."
--Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"The monk explains Buddhism to the philosopher dispelling many stereotypes.The Philosopher listens and learns.This book offers a wonderful opportunity for the reader to experience a lucid and engaging Buddhist teacher, and to witness how very hard it can be to open one's mind."
--Elisabeth Young-Breuhl

"The Monk and the Philosopher is a brilliant and utterly fascinating book, a
stimulus to the mind, and a balm to the soul."
--Norman Podhoretz

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Jean-Francois Revel & Matthieu Ricard
Published by Thorsons / HarperCollins (1998)
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