The Monk and The Philosopher A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life

REVEL, Jean-Francois & RICAARD, Matthieu

Published by New York, Schocken Books, 1999. 1st US Edition.
ISBN 10: 0805241620 / ISBN 13: 9780805241624
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Hardcover, 8vo., very good condition in like dustjacket, 311pp. Jean-Francois Revel was a pillar of French intellectual life, famous for his challenges to Communism and Christianity. His son. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: 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.

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

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Title: The Monk and The Philosopher A Father and ...
Publisher: New York, Schocken Books, 1999. 1st US Edition.

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