Reported widely by various media, Matthieu Ricard, a French Tibetan Buddhist monk was declared the happiest man on Earth by a group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin.
In 2009, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the French monk’s head with 256 sensors as part of a research project on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans showed something remarkable: when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory that were never even reported before in neuroscience literature. Furthermore, the scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.They discovered his brain produces a level of gamma waves never before reported in the field of neuroscience.
A former molecular geneticist who left his life and career behind to discover the secrets of Buddhism, Ricard is now a prominent monk in Kathmandu’s Shechen Monastery. He divides his year between isolated meditation, scientific research and accompanying the Dalai Lama as his adviser on trips to French-speaking countries and science conferences. He is passionately speaking on the reason why meditation can alter the brain and improve people’s happiness in the same way that lifting weights puts on muscle.
“It’s a wonderful area of research because it shows that meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree but it completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are,” he told AFP recently.
He addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos at the height of the financial crisis in 2009 to tell gathered heads of state and business leaders it was time to give up greed in favor of “enlightened altruism”. Ricard sees living a good life, and showing compassion, not as a religious edict revealed from on high, but as a practical route to happiness:
“Try sincerely to check, to investigate,” he said. “That’s what Buddhism has been trying to unravel – the mechanism of happiness and suffering. It is a science of the mind.”
Pretty sure if the scientists would test a wide range of sannyasins they might be in for another a surprise – the gamma waves emitted could very well reach to the far side of the universe!
Bhagawati, Osho News