Matthieu Ricard (born February 15, 1946) is a French Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal.
Born in Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France, he is the son of the late Jean-François Revel (born Jean-François Ricard), a renowned French philosopher. His mother is the lyrical abstractionist painter Yahne Le Toumelin. Matthieu Ricard grew up among the personalities and ideas of French intellectual circles.
He worked for a Ph.D. degree in molecular genetics at the Pasteur Institute under French Nobel Laureate François Jacob. After completing his doctoral thesis in 1972, Ricard decided to forsake his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
He lived in the Himalayas studying with the Kangyur Rinpoche and some other great masters of that tradition and became the close student and attendant of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until Rinpoche’s death in 1991. Since then, Dr. Ricard has dedicated his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision.
He is the author and photographer of Tibet, An Inner Journey and Monk Dancers of Tibet and, in collaboration, the photobooks Buddhist Himalayas, Journey to Enlightenment and Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas. He is the translator of numerous Buddhist texts, including The Life of Shabkar.
The dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher, was a best seller in Europe and was translated into 21 languages, and The Quantum and the Lotus (coauthored with Trinh Xuan Thuan) reflects his long-standing interest in science and Buddhism. His 2003 book Plaidoyer pour le bonheur (published in English in 2006 as Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill) explores the meaning and fulfillment of happiness and was a major best-seller in France.
He has been called the “happiest person in the world” by popular media. Matthieu Ricard was a volunteer subject in a study performed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on happiness, scoring significantly above the average of hundreds of volunteers.