June 4 2019

From the Beginning: Rooted in Altruism

Karuna-Shechen brings people together from around the world to act for the common purpose of building a more just and altruistic world.

How it started?

Our founder Matthieu Ricard was born in France, and in his early twenties he first visited India, where he met great spiritual masters from Tibet. After completing his Ph.D. degree in cell genetics, he moved to the Himalayan region to be near his masters Kangyour Rinpoché and Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche. As he lived and studied among the Himalayan people, he was moved to address the inequalities and suffering he observed in the region. Thus, when he published the bestselling book The Monk and the Philosopher with his father, the philosopher Jean-François Revel, he decided to dedicate his entire share of the proceeds to humanitarian projects in the region.

This altruistic act was the beginning of Karuna-Shechen, and formed the basis of our vision: rooted in altruism, based on the active participation of rural communities, respectful of cultural heritage, and dedicated to preserving local natural resources.

Expending altruism

As a natural progression of Matthieu’s dedication to the region and an expression of altruism in action, Karuna-Shechen welcomed generous benefactors to join in. Together, they raised enough funds to build our first school and medical clinics to serve people in need from remote and under-served villages. People wishing to help spread compassion joined the effort and created branches and affiliates to support our teams and local partners.

Matthieu Ricard’s vast knowledge and experience was paramount to the success of our projects, and with the growth of our circle of donors, we were able to increase our services and reach. Today, we reduce suffering and improve the quality of life for 380,000 people in need each year.

Everything happens thanks to interdependance

At the heart of our work remains the ideals of compassion and benevolence, which unites donors, volunteers, staff, and beneficiaries to work together to put altruism in action. Our projects are accomplished through a web of interdependent manifestations of good will — our teams and partners in the field, who carry out the projects; our international branches, who raise funds and awareness; our beneficiaries, who express their needs and work hand-in-hand to implement sustainable solutions; and our benefactors, whose generous and faithful support make all this work possible.

Guided by integrity, compassion, and action, we continue our journey together to undertake new projects and ensure the sustainability of existing ones. As our donors make contributions, we are able to increase our services; as the services increase, more volunteers come on board to push our projects forward; as our work increases, staff in our international branches and in the field coordinate projects and report the impact of our work back to our donors, which in turn inspires more contributions to increase our humanitarian work.

Thus the circle of altruism expands and makes a positive impact on everyone it touches: beneficiaries, volunteers, staff, and donors alike. The impact we have is reliant on all of us.

We invite you to join Altruism in Action
and expand our circle of compassion.