Freedom for All of Us: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Peace

Freedom for All of Us: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Peace

Freedom for All of Us: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Peace

Freedom for All of Us: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Peace


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Three luminary teachers unfold a compelling series of dialogues on inner freedom—what it is and how to cultivate it in ourselves and others.

“We are, nearly all of us,” writes Matthieu Ricard, “the playthings of our whims, our conditioning, our impulses, our inner conflicts, our wandering thoughts, and our afflictive emotions. This servitude of ours is at the root of much that torments us. How do we free ourselves from the prison of these mental mechanisms, in the face of which we often feel helpless, even resigned?”

With their acclaimed book In Search of Wisdom, these three gifted friends—a monk, a philosopher, and a psychiatrist—shed light on our universal quest for meaning, purpose, and understanding. Now, in this new in-depth offering, they invite us to tend to the garden of our true nature: freedom.

Turn by turn, each shares his own unique perspective on the various obstacles to inner freedom, the “ecology” of freedom, the ways to cultivate it, and the harvest that comes out of it. What emerges is a panoramic vision and road map for us to overcome the barriers that hinder our liberation.

“It is our hope,” they write, “that this book will clarify the means for freeing ourselves from the causes of suffering.” Filled with unexpected insights and specific strategies, Freedom for All of Us presents an inspiring guide for breaking free of the unconscious walls that confine us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683644828
Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 450,427
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, humanitarian, and author of several books, including The Monk and the Philosopher, Happiness, and Altruism. He is a major participant in the research collaboration between cognitive scientists and Buddhist practitioners. Ricard is a noted translator and photographer, and has founded humanitarian projects in India, Tibet, and Nepal. For more information, visit

Christophe André is a psychiatrist specializing in the psychology of emotions. His books include Imperfect, Free and Happy and Meditating, Day After Day. He lives in France. For more, visit

Alexandre Jollien is a philosopher and writer who spent 17 years in a home for the physically disabled. His books include In Praise of Weakness. He lives in Switzerland. For more, visit

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Introduction: What Is Inner Freedom? 1

Not Splitting Human Beings in Half 6

The Feeling of Freedom 8

Part 1 Obstacles to Inner Freedom

1 Akrasia: Weakness of the Will 15

What Is Akrasia? 16

Why Akrasia Is a Trap 18

It's Total Bedlam, but What's the Problem? 22

How to Beat Akrasia 23

"We Can't Really Change": Another False Idea 26

Toolbox for Dealing with Akrasia 28

2 Dependency 31

The Cerebral Mechanisms of Addiction 33

Why Is It So Difficult to Overcome Addiction? 35

The Tipping Point 38

Emotional Dependency 43

The Power of Solidarity in Working with Addiction 48

Toolbox for Working with Dependency 50

3 Fear 55

Panic Attacks 57

How to Free Oneself from Panic 59

Trust and Appreciation of Our Good Moments Are at the Heart of Healing 65

Hooked on Anxiety? 68

Toolbox for Working with Fear 70

4 Discouragement and Despair 73

Learned Optimism and Discouragement 74

Discouragement and Hope 76

Freeing Ourselves from Despair 80

"Here, There Are No Failures" 81

Toolbox for Dealing with Discouragement 83

5 Egocentricity 85

Suffering Can Make Us Egocentric 88

Ego Is Neither a Vice Nor a Solution 91

How to Combat the Flavor Enhancers of Ego 94

Toolbox for Working with Egocentricity 99

6 Delusion 101

The Wounds of Exile 105

How to Find Your Way Back to the Path 106

Toolbox for Working with Delusion 109

Part II The Ecology of Freedom

7 The Physical Environment Acts on Our Mental State 115

Propitious Places for Our Inner Life 116

The Proven Benefits of Contact with Nature 120

Toolbox for Creating a Favorable Environment 125

8 An Ecology of Relationship 129

How Others Facilitate or Hinder Our Freedom 130

Friends in the Good 133

When Others Make Us Suffer 135

The Power of Relationships and Their Maintenance 139

The Power of Example 141

Toolbox for an Ecology of Relationship 145

9 The Impact of Our Cultural Environment 151

Culture Shock 152

The Factors That Alienate Us 153

What Are Our Cultural Reference Points? 156

Serene Simplicity 159

Time Pressure and the Bystander Effect 161

How Social Environment Can Be Conducive to Freedom 163

The Virtues of Humility 164

Toolbox for a Cultural Ecology 168

Part III Efforts Toward Liberation

10 The Horizon of Effort 173

Why Effort? 173

Motivation 175

The Psychology of Effort 177

Effort and Letting Go 179

Are We Headed Toward an Effortless World? 181

Toolbox for the Horizon of Effort 183

11 Difficult Effort, Joyous Effort 187

A Certain Discrediting of Effort 188

Difficult Beginnings 190

Joy Leads to Freedom 191

Effort Is Not Mental Orthopedics 194

The First Step 196

Microchoices 198

Toolbox for Putting Joy into Your Efforts 202

12 Training the Mind 205

What Is Mind Training? 206

The Emergence of Inner Cohesion 211

Ongoing Mind Training in Spite of Ourselves 213

Emotional Intelligence and Mind Training 216

All the Same? 218

The Default Mode 220

Toolbox for Training the Mind 221

13 Meditation 225

What Is Meditation? 226

Dealing with Thoughts in Meditation 230

Why Meditate? 232

How Does Meditation Liberate Us? 233

Before and After Meditation 241

Real Changes Occur Imperceptibly over Time 244

Does Mindfulness Necessarily Mean More Altruism? 246

Dangers and Misuses of Meditation 250

Toolbox for Meditation 257

14 From Transformation of Self to Transformation of the World 259

Is Inner Freedom a Prerequisite for Action? 260

How Inner Change and Outer Change Are Connected 262

Toolbox for Transforming Ourselves and the World 265

Part IV The Fruits of Freedom

15 Inner Pacification 271

Inner Peace, Calm Energy 272

Inner Peace = Outer Calm 276

Is Inner Peace Outmoded or Totally Up to Date? 278

Toolbox for Working on Inner Peace 281

16 Our Basic Nature 285

The Ground of Grounds 286

Neuroplasticity Again 289

Moments of Grace 292

Toolbox for Opening Ourselves to Our Deeper Nature 295

17 Dealing with Death 297

A Prime Occasion for Letting Go 298

Thinking about Death in Order to Love Life 299

From Fear to Acceptance 302

An Indispensable Celebration of Life 305

Illness or Physical Impairment Change Our Way of Looking at Death 307

8 Ethics 309

What Are We Talking About? 310

Embodied Ethics 312

The Difficulty of Sincere Ethics and Altruistic Ethics 314

Paying Heed to the Inner Compass 317

Toolbox for an Ethics of Everyday Life 319

19 Unconditional Compassion 323

Is Being Compassionate Naive? 324

Faces of Compassion 326

Everyday Benevolence and Compassion 329

The Gratuitousness and Delicacy of Compassion 332

Indifference and Ill Will 334

Navigating Between the Unpleasantness of Adversity and the Somnolence of Well-Being 335

Compassion Toward Oneself 336

What Is Unconditional Compassion? 337

Toolbox for Unconditional Compassion 339

Conclusion: Were the Fruits of the Harvest Good? 341

Notes 343

Acknowledgments 347

The Matthieu Ricard Foundation for the Advancement of Altruism in the World 349

About the Authors 351

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