Cathy Blanc: all-terrain humanity

- through Francois Leclercq

Published on

Whatever her fields of action, from prisons to hospitals, this homeopath and acupuncturist, founder of Ecoé, relieves bodies and hearts bruised by meditation. Portrait of a truly borderless doctor.

In this prison in the Hérault where she volunteered to lead meditation and sharing workshops, Cathy Blanc overcomes the misery of hearts and the lack of infrastructure. At 65, this woman who has worked as a doctor for forty years still finds the faith to get involved where there is despair. It is enough for her to see this handful of prisoners recover a little self-esteem at the end of such sessions where she invites them to connect with the best part of themselves. This way of exploring her light within herself rather than sinking into her dark side is one of the teachings that converted her to Buddhism. Cathy Blanc was 23 when she attended a lecture by the Tibetan lama Sogyal Rinpoche on suffering. The subject has been bothering him for years now. She who grew up on the harsh peaks of the Pyrenees, in a Catholic family open to other paths of spirituality and where the vocations of caregivers were legion; she whose worker-priest godfather wondered how to translate his religious commitment into his life mission. “How do we get hurt and hurt? asks the teenager, lulled by the stories of distant civilizations and the readings of the travels of Teilhard de Chardin, this iconoclast theologian-paleontologist.

In search of inner revolution

In Toulouse, where she studied general and Chinese medicine, Cathy Blanc took part in Christian prayer and meditation groups that brought together people from all walks of life. Unlike her left-leaning atheist college friends, who advocate social revolution, she is drawn to non-violent means of relieving life's torments. “It's first of all an interior revolution,” she says. Cathy Blanc has always had a thirst for human and united commitment. “But when you face suffering, goodwill is not enough,” she warns. The tools to act, she discovers them in the Buddhist philosophy. Based in Montpellier where she practices acupuncture and homeopathy, "a medicine that speaks to me", this mother of four children does not hesitate to take three months out of her daily routine for a long retreat at the Lerab Ling Tibetan center in Roqueredonde, near Lodeve. “Buddhist meditation, unlike personal development, does not invite you to be better, but to know yourself better. She jostles us because she aims to accept herself with her imperfections. And it is this self-tolerance that allows the tolerance of the other”.

Buddhism, a path to inner freedom.

In parallel with his spiritual path within Rigpa (see box 1), where she still trains groups of students, Cathy Blanc founded almost 25 years ago the association Tonglen (give and receive in Tibetan), since renamed Ecoé (see box 2), to support people in difficulty – end of life, bereavement, breakup or addiction. Mainly located in Languedoc-Roussillon, it brings together around 70 volunteers. "During our first intervention in the oncology department of a clinic in Montpellier, the nursing staff, touched by our approach, wanted in turn to be trained », she remembers, moved.

A biker in meditation

However, Cathy Blanc does not proselytize. “Buddhism in my opinion is not just another belief, but a path to inner freedom”. She willingly tells the story of this man suffering from a neuro-vegetative disease whose only eyes were still moving and who wanted to end his life. At his bedside, an Ecoé volunteer, understanding, with difficulty, that he had liked motorcycling, offered him a meditation centered on the sensations of speed and freedom, as if he were at the controls of his racing car. This patient drew from it a new source of peace to the point of renouncing euthanasia. "It would be dishonest to deduce from this that meditation is an unstoppable remedy against despair", deciphers Cathy Blanc, who devotes herself to it for an hour and a half every morning. “It only allows the other to open up to a larger dimension of himself. For her, who has chosen to rub shoulders with suffering, it is not a question of protecting herself against it at the risk of exhausting herself by cutting herself off from her emotions or letting herself be polluted by it, but of welcoming it with compassion. This kindness, it is precisely the Chinese translation of the ideogram – a silhouette of a walking man – which punctuates the Ecoé logo. It also means the number 2, "suggesting that we need at least two to move forward", says the one who feeds on the time devoted to others.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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