Jacques Attali: Meditate to create a better world.

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

A large sculpture of the Buddha reflected to infinity in a bronze mirror welcomes us into a bright and spacious living room. A meditating white Siamese cat, suddenly tender and curious, gets up when Jacques Attali arrives. The master of the place receives us to evoke Buddhism, not without a certain reservation, but also meditation, the roots of altruism at the foundation of the positive economy.

You mentioned in your works the journey of the Buddha. What does this historical and spiritual figure inspire in you?

He embodies, in my eyes, an exceptional model of "becoming oneself" by his tearing away from the promised life to follow his path, change and become "the Awakened". There are many other examples in history, if only at the very time when Siddhartha Gautama lived: Ezar, Socrates, Confucius… all roughly contemporary, in the XNUMXth century BC, at a strangely pivotal time. . And so many others followed. Today, the Buddha who inspires me is almost more this marvelous statue than that of Buddhism itself, in its current form.

What do you blame him for?

To have become essentially an ideology of resignation, often at the service of the comfort of the religious, as we see in the regions with a strong Buddhist predominance in Asia. It's undeniably an interesting culture, but I don't see anything in it that can improve our imperfect world today. However, there is urgency in the face of the major crises that are looming.

Doesn't the Buddhist tradition offer tools for changing and being able to change the world, such as non-violence on the level of ideas, or mediation on the practical level?

All this is not specific to Buddhism. The principles of non-violence are present in Jainism, Christianity, Judaism… Gandhi was not a Buddhist, for example. Likewise, meditation and yoga are not specific to Buddhism either, although they are very present in this tradition. Some go through it to discover them, but the risk is to fall into narcissism and well-being for oneself first. Like the misguided ideology of capitalism, this attitude can only favor the rise of populism.

Isn't this narcissistic vision of Buddhism contradictory with one of the foundations of this tradition which consists in “cutting the ego” much more than cultivating it?

Yes surely, but I observe many followers falling into this selfish fault. It is the victory of a false Buddhism that I find disturbing. And to the compassion he advocates all the same, I prefer altruism, the concrete concern for others. Against resignation, I also choose revolt in the face of the world as it is drifting socially, economically, politically and climatically.

You meditate a lot, hasn't that contributed to changing your view of the world to think about a more responsible positive economy?

I have always defended a development model that takes into account the well-being of future generations. Nobody honestly supports unbridled economic and industrial growth anymore, and I have been denouncing it for a long time. So I can't say that meditation opened my eyes. However, it can undeniably be a tool for personal awakening, on oneself and on the world.

“We must present examples of Buddhists who have been able to work usefully in the world for a better future. It will help a lot to move from a personal quest to actions for others. »

In our forums, we offer it, moreover, which makes it possible to link this inner exercise to collective reflection and action. That's the main thing. Its many benefits on the cognitive level to preserve the brain, develop concentration, self-control and non-violence, are well established. But once again, what is useful to oneself must be turned towards others.

Showing the way of altruism, of disinterestedness to save the world from the crises you mention, isn't that also the role of a media like Buddhist News?

Certainly ! You have an educational mission to show the best of Buddhism, disconnected from self-centered well-being and resignation. We must present examples of Buddhists who have been able to work usefully in the world to a better future. It will help a lot to move from a personal quest to actions for others

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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