“If one day, I had been told that I would be at the head of a school of 416 students, I would have left running! I didn't come there for that, ”says Dominique, amused. Ten years after her last trip to India, she returned there in 2005, to Bihar, on the land of Buddha, to practice. But, she adds as she finishes swallowing her coffee: “To stay on a cushion when the people around you are in bad shape and need help was unbearable to me. I had to do something”. Everything is said in a few words of what motivates her. She gets on her scooter and leaves to welcome the students to Shanti India, the school she opened in 2010 in Bodhgaya, with Anuj, her Indian partner.
dharma in education
Together, they educated street children in begging. With always this desire "to introduce dharma into education", insists Dominique, convinced that by developing values such as gratitude, benevolence and compassion in children, "this will help them to get out of poverty and of the violence they face. From her office, where photos of her Tibetan master Mingyour Rinpoche are hung, she takes her microphone and starts the meditation, broadcast in the classrooms by loudspeakers. Today the theme is gratitude for what life gives us. “Every morning, we also reiterate the wish to do everything to bring happiness to others. It helps to develop a positive motivation in the day. “Children, she saved some! Like eleven-year-old Samridhi, who says she now has a calmer mind and no longer lets herself be plagued by problems at home since she started meditating at school. Or Rohit, thirteen years old. Present since kindergarten, he is now supported by his family, reluctant at first to send him to school!
“In Buddhism there are these three pillars: study, contemplate, meditate. Practice in action is good, but formal practice is essential for cultivating wisdom. »
To support this school, which until then had been financed by her own funds and donations from members of Shanti India, Dominique invested part of her parents' inheritance in guest rooms. This is how she opened Tara Guest House in 2012 (named after the Buddhist deity symbol of compassion), a few meters from the school. “Anuj advised me to buy the building adjoining his house to enlarge it, as well as the small adjacent land to do permaculture. Guided by compassion, she welcomes vulnerable children and women who have had to flee their homes. This is the case of Siam, seven years old, whose violent father locked him in a dark room with his mother for more than three years. “He still can't close the doors, but he is integrating better and better at school. These children have unimaginable resilience! In total, eighteen people, including Anuj's family, live permanently on the ground floor, the bedrooms upstairs being reserved for tourists.
"It's only a step"
For Dominique, Shanti India and Tara Guest House are just a stopover. “If I could, I would save all the children on Earth,” she smiles. In the meantime, she does her best to connect young people in difficulty with caring masters and teachers. And does not hide his desire to subsequently resume a life of more intense practice. Whenever she can, it is in the meditation room, built on the roof of the guest house, that Dominique recharges her batteries daily. “Practice in action is good, but formal practice is essential for cultivating wisdom. In Buddhism there are these three pillars: study, contemplate, meditate. »
Seated in the kitchen, she takes out the sweets that the masters give to the participants at the end of certain rituals and shows the photo of Mingyur Rinpoche, to whom she feels close. “In the Vajyarana, you have to see the master as the Buddha and for me, Mingyur embodies him. »
Back in Corsica
When she leaves Bodhgaya when the heat sets in at the beginning of May, she returns to her Corsican lands for a few months, to her village of Ospedale, near Porto Vecchio. Where she passed her baccalaureate as a free candidate before turning to literature studies to finally become a nurse. There too, where she organized her first meetings between villagers and Tibetan Buddhist masters, at the end of the 1980s. In her thirties, touched by the Tibetan cause, she then founded in 1993 the association Corsica-Tibet which she continues to bring to life to “maintain a dynamic around meditation and dharma”. His stays in France also allow him to raise funds for Shanti India. Acting for children is the heart of his life. Perhaps, because hers was particularly happy with her parents in Morocco. “My father was a war hero who did everything for his country and my mother was an embodiment of the bodhisattva! They were my first masters. An example that she keeps repeating.