A repost from Ethan Nichtern: Heroes Who Meditate Day 19 -Matthieu Ricard. Ricard was beginning a career as a talented French scientist ( his father was also a prominent contemporary French philosopher), when he abruptly became a Tibetan Buddhist monk, one of the first Westerners to do so. he is a very insightful teacher and writer about the mind. I completely agree with his statement here: religion is optional, humanity is essential.