Painting with Light

by Charles Hastings
Matthieu's spiritual life and his camera are one and the same. From them arise these fleeting and eternal images.

—Henri Cartier-Bresson
Matthieu's photos are a constant feature of Imagine Clarity. Without words, The sense of calm, clarity and kindness that these deeply contemplative images exude, eloquently and without words, provide a constant inspiration as we discover these qualities within ourselves.
Matthieu explains his approach to photography thus:
Isn't a good photo an image that you never tire of looking at?  A monastery emerging from the mist in the early morning in the Himalayas, horses galloping under a stormy sky in Tibet, or an endless succession of hills fading into the light of morning? Sometimes, an extraordinary light illuminates a scene for a few moments. During this magical moment, one has the impression of painting with light.
He captures those fleeting moments with remarkable accuracy on the spot. Yet he does not hesitate to employ all his art to carefully refine them in post-production, to fully reveal the magic of the scene, painting with light to share his very specific vision:
Images of violence and suffering are necessary to raise awareness and inspire our determination to intervene, and to help remedy injustices. However, we should never lose sight of the potential for inner beauty within each person. It is important to maintain the right balance to avoid falling into a syndrome that convinces us that the world is bad and that human beings are inherently evil. In reality, we all have deep within us, like a golden nugget, a tremendous potential for goodness, wisdom and awakening.
Of course, it is not easy to translate these values into images, but the photographer can try to evoke the inner beauty of a spiritual master, the radiance of his kindness, the sweetness of a child with an innocent look or the serenity of an old man with a toothless smile. He can share the wonder that inspired by the sudden revelation of a sublime landscape.
Extract from Carnets d’un moine errant, Notebooks of a Wandering Monk, Matthieu’s recently published autobiography (Allary Éditions). An English version is planned for next year.
There is an underlying consistency in all of Matthieu Ricard's activities. Everything he does, his books, his lectures, his photos, his humanitarian activities, and above all, his spiritual practice, express the same values, the same worldview, and the same message.

How does Matthieu do so much? He spends a good part of his day in meditation, yet he continually produces books, multiplies public appearances, and enthusiastically guides and supports the NGO he founded, Karuna-Shechen. Despite all this activity he never seems stressed. Whenever I meet him he seems completely relaxed. He faces difficulties with humour and generates an infectious enthusiasm in everything he does. Perhaps the key is the many years he spent absorbing the transmission of his spiritual teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who had an amazing ability to be in a continuous flow of altruistic activity, radiant, calm and benevolent in all circumstances, unhurried, yet never wasting a moment.

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