At the end of June 2019, the heat wave episode that is hitting the country is pushing some Parisians to hide in their homes or seek an air-conditioned space to escape the powerful rays of the sun. Others opt for a refuge in one of the capital's rare green spaces: the Bois de Vincennes. For those who walk along the lake, after a ten-minute walk, stands on their right a strange assembly of buildings, the main ones being the former pavilions of Cameroon and Togo from the Universal Colonial Exhibition of 1931. This place now houses the Great Buddhist Pagoda and its statue of the Buddha – which, at a height of nine meters, makes it the largest in Europe. It is within its walls that, from June 28 to 30, the seventh edition of Kagyu Meunlam took place.
“To illuminate the countries of this world like butter lamps. »
Kagyu Meunlam, kezako? In Tibetan, “meun” designates the wish, the aspiration, and “lam” the way. In other words, the Tibetan Buddhist school Kagyu brings together in a non-sectarian way during these three days all those who have the desire to indulge in "wishes for the peace and good of all beings" through prayers, songs and teaching given for the third consecutive year by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, one of the great masters of this school. His teaching focuses this year on “the nine stages of Samatha” (shine, in Tibetan), meditation leading to peace of mind, to mental calm.
This festival and ritual is the annual highlight of the Kagyupas. They bear the direct imprint of its young leader, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, the 2014th Karampa, who expressed the wish in 2600 “to see the Kagyu Meunlam illuminate the countries of this world like butter lamps”. These ceremonies have since been performed on all continents, starting with Bodhgaya, where Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment nearly XNUMX years ago.
“In just one hour, all my tensions melted away. »
At 10:30 a.m. on this Saturday morning, the participants leave the pagoda for the first break of the day. The days are busy since they are spread out from 9 am to 18 pm, the few coffee breaks organized in the morning and afternoon offer a welcome break to be able to stretch your legs and relax for a few moments. However, the recollection is palpable, we do not observe any manifestation of immoderate relaxation. As the line for coffee gets longer, smiles spread across many faces and nothing seems to be able to detract from the serenity that emanates from the place, not even the children playing and sneaking among the attendees. This is what Pascal, 62 (even if he seems 45!) remembers, and who says he has done “all the previous editions, except one”. For this one, he adds, "I arrived stressed because of all the difficulties I'm having at the moment, but I have the feeling that in just one hour of time, all my tensions have disappeared. fainted”.
“Just listen and let yourself be carried away by the very particular melodies and sounds of Tibetans, while meditating, saying mantras or making altruistic wishes or wishes in silence. »
The hundred participants come from all over France, of course, but also from abroad. So we are suddenly surprised to hear Americans share the reasons that led them to come: they "combine business with pleasure" since this festival allows a father, Steve who lives in a small town in the Colorado, to find his son, Jason, who lives in Cyprus! Steve is particularly touched by "the ceremonies aimed at the deceased, helping them to move towards better rebirths", while Jason, meanwhile, is constantly "moved by all the ceremonial", but also "by the person of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche". And it was "also to meet Rinpoche" that they said to themselves that "Paris was ultimately an ideal destination for this family reunion. (Laughter) ».
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, the “lazy lama”
It is now the turn of the master of ceremonies to continue the teaching started the day before. This teaching phase began during the Mounlam 2018. “This better corresponds to the expectations and sensitivity of Western Buddhists, who find it difficult to participate in long daily rituals”, explains Damien Delebarre, called Djampa in Tibetan. He has lived in India since 2001, took the monk's vows in 2006, and since 2010 has been the official French translator of the XNUMXth Karmapa. Teaching is given in English, translated into French by one of the monks belonging to the community that organized this event. We quickly understand why Ringu Tulku Rinpoche arouses such fervor in those who come to listen to him: in no way a "bogeyman", on the contrary he poses as the most "lazy" practitioner there is, absolutely incapable of practicing meditation correctly, and evokes in great bursts of laughter all the times when he did not see the time pass in meditation so much he had finally "slept well" on his cushion!... So many pseudo personal anecdotes which can echo the experiences lived by his audience, and which help to relieve him of guilt and to relax the atmosphere.
“Relax”, not “distract”. Indeed, as Steve and Jason indicated, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche specifies that people who come to the days can follow "the chanting of the master of ceremonies and the monks, reciting aloud the phonetics of the Tibetan texts", or simply by “reflecting on their meaning, which is always profound, thanks to the French or English translation”. Or, “just listen and let yourself be carried away by the very special melodies and sounds of Tibetans” while “meditating, saying mantras or making altruistic wishes or wishes in silence. »
And this is what the passing visitor feels when attending these different practices punctuating the Kagyu Meunlam for a few hours: a relaxation, even a certain serenity... Also, when leaving the Great Pagoda with regret, a sentence pronounced by the singer Tina Turner insinuates herself into our minds: “I am not wise, but the beginning of wisdom is there; it's like relaxing and accepting things”. Here is a thought on which to meditate well or fall asleep, right?