May 29 2018

Matthieu Ricard: Altruism & the Environment

Karuna-Shechen works in and around the Himalayas, which have been described as the Third Pole, and we are highly concerned by environmental issues.

The question of the environment is complex scientifically, economically, and politically. But in the end, it is a matter of altruism versus selfishness.

We may assume that the majority of us are basically good people who are willing to build a better world. We can do so together with altruism.

If we have more consideration for others, we will promote a more caring economy, and we will promote harmony and reduce inequalities. We will do what is needed so that humanity and the rest of the biosphere can continue to prosper.


In northern India, Nepal and Tibet, at our humble level, Karuna-Shechen carries out projects that respond to the vital needs of the most fragile individuals and villages, while acting in the long term. Our approach to rural development focuses on education and the active participation of villagers, but also on the preservation and sustainable management of local natural resources.

We bring solar electricity to isolated villages in Nepal, where we also promote agro-ecology and the production of organic foods that are more sustainable for the local environment. We also implement rainwater harvesting systems to avoid depleting the water-table (which results in springs drying up in many villages).

In the Indian provinces of Bihar and Jharkhand, our beneficiaries plant more than 20,000 gardens every year to offset the increase in monocultures that deplete soil quality and significantly reduce biodiversity. We are also training women as electric rickshaw taxi drivers to encourage the economic empowerment of women, while promoting an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. We also distribute tens of thousands of jute bags to combat plastic pollution.

This is just a drop in the ocean, but if we all make efforts in the right direction, we may still be able to build a better world.

~Matthieu Ricard

Read more from Matthieu Ricard about protecting the environment

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