using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
buddhadharma| 77 |fall 2007 dhArmA clAssic Iwas seventeen and embarking on two simultaneous adventures: the first, a year abroad in France; the second, a self-guided introduction to Buddhism, a subject I had been obsessing about in the months preceding my trip. Upon arriv- ing in Paris, my studies of Buddhism and French culture seemed like separate jour- neys, divided by East and West. But with time, a single book called The Monk and the Philosopher transformed the two into one. With more zeal for studying Buddhism than French, I was quite pleased when Vladamir, my new host brother, asked me on the metro ride from the airport, “Alors, tu fais le Kung Fu?” I didn’t. But his question raised my hopes that he was also interested in Buddhism. No such luck. Within seconds, Vladamir began kicking and punching all the lights in the metro car. “Ya! Ya!” he shrieked. And the train grew darker with each blow. The next two months were a night- mare: Vladamir invited me to steal cars, while his mother made it a house rule that I pay five francs every time I put my hands in my pockets because, in her opinion, such an infraction meant I wasn’t ready to work at the snap of her fingers. I comforted myself by establishing a medi- tation practice and reading every Thich Nhat Hanh book in publication. But the internal battle lines were being drawn: the host family came to represent the shallow Occident, while my Thich Nhat Hahn books represented the idealized Orient. Long story short: I switched to a new family on the Swiss-French border that turned out to be fairy tale perfect. But I was so stuck in my growing resentment toward the French (and by association, the West) that I only opened up to my year abroad – and to the present moment – when I found The Monk and the Philosopher. The book consists of more than three hundred pages of conversations between a father and son as they compare and contrast Western philosophy and Bud- dhism. The father, Jean-François Revel, was a French philosopher best known for his book Without Marx or Jesus (he died last year). And his son, Matthieu Ricard, is an accomplished molecular biologist turned Tibetan Buddhist monk. The dis- cussion between the two is of an order rarely witnessed; it has all the respect of a father-son relationship, yet it maintains the hard scrutiny of a scientific debate. It’s hard to describe the excitement I felt reading these two tackle the big issues: time, reincarnation, the nature of thought. There are plenty of heated dis- agreements. But it was the parallels that struck something deep inside. “Time is only a concept attached by an observer to a succession of instants,” Ricard tells his father at one point. And Revel responds, “That’s rather like Kant’s doctrine. Time has no existence in itself, but is a human mode of apprehending phenomena.” The book was full of synergistic moments like this. And for me, they were a secret alchemy dissolving the East-West barrier and letting me accept where and who (in the narrow sense) I was. In the first pages of the discussion, I realized that Buddhism intrigued me not necessarily because it was a superior phi- losophy or religion – although I do like it JAimAl yoGis is A writer for San FranciSco mAGAzine And is currently workinG on A book About zen And surfinG. eAsT finAlly meeTs wesT the Monk and the Philosopher By jean-françois Revel and Matthieu Ricard Schocken Books, 1998 (hardcover), 2000 (paperback) in print Reviewed by jaimal yogis