We live in a world where altruism must become the driving force of humanity to both relieve the suffering of others and ensure our continued survival as a species.
The Buddhist monk Mathieu Ricard gives an insightful and entertaining introduction to altruism on the interpersonal and global scale in this recent TED Talk:
(summary below video)
The take away points are:
- Altruism is the wish that others may be happy and find the cause of happiness.
- Climate change has brought the earth to a precipice. Learning to think and behave in a way that embraces our shared humanity and desire to survive is the fundamental answer to this crisis.
- Evolutionary scientists (biologists, anthropologists, psychologists etc.) believe that humans are not purely selfish animals. Studies show that our species has a strong tendency towards cooperation and altruism.
- Can we learn to become more altruistic? Yes, we can, and it can happen on two different levels: the individual and society.
- On the individual level, neuroscience studies show that brain structure changes when people practice compassion and mindfulness meditation—after just week eight weeks.
- On the societal level, we can encourage altruism by changing culture. Specifically, this means:
- Enhancing cooperation
- Sustainable harmony
- Caring economics
- Local commitment, global responsibility.
If you want deeper meaning in your life, opening your mind to altruism might be the mind-altering path you seek.