At first glance, this disciple of the Japanese school of Soto exudes serenity. Few useless or messy gestures, a slight smile which he never seems to lose, a slender voice barely rising when he gets enthusiastic. In short, the Buddhist as one can imagine him, shaved head moreover, at the antipodes of the lively and hurried entrepreneur. But this affable air masks a hyperactive, because this 58-year-old Parisian is also a man of a thousand lives: in turn Chef, administrator and film producer, active member of working groups on justice and the hospital, founder of associations and collectives promoting Buddhism in France... All this in parallel with his activities as a writer, teacher, lecturer, involvement in national and international bodies of Buddhism and, more recently, in groups promoting interreligious dialogue. His latest idea? Create a refuge for practitioners and lovers of spirituality. He has just acquired the land at Plessis, in Île-de-France; everything remains to be done, but after all it is only a new construction site after so many others.
"I've been dreaming of this place for fifteen years, it's the culmination of all my projects," he says. Its initiatives have in common the commitment and the taste of the concrete. Because there is urgency in the eyes of the one who diagnoses with seriousness "the collapse of our society". Faced with families who are struggling to make ends meet, as with an ecosystem threatened with disappearing at the same time as humanity, he can no longer content himself with a "Comfort Buddhism", he says, centered on meditation and spirituality.
Faced with families struggling to make ends meet, as with an ecosystem threatened with disappearing at the same time as humanity, he can no longer content himself with a “Buddhism of comfort”.
The trigger came in 1997, when he took part out of curiosity in two retreats at Auschwitz, led by the American Zen teacher Bernie Glassman – also known for his action in favor of the homeless in New York. “I understood that we could invent an apprenticeship allowing us to embody Buddhism in daily life. In small working groups, he imported this model into France, multiplied experiences and initiatives to rediscover the desire to act in a world in crisis. "Devoting half a day a week to an association is also a way of transforming oneself and reconnecting with the figure of the Bodhisattva", he assures us.
Because Éric Rommeluère disputes any break with traditionalism, which moreover marked his training. “One respects one's master without argument as long as one follows his teaching. But as soon as one is recognized as a successor, one becomes free and worthy to trace one's own path. For him, as for the Zen scholar David Loy – another major reference in his eyes – being a Buddhist means above all working to end suffering in all its forms. Vegan and ecological activism, for example, remains in this sense a variant of the traditional renunciation, preached by Buddhists for thousands of years, of the “poison of greed”. “The environment and justice are the two themes that are closest to my heart,” he summarizes, still proud to have participated in the creation of the first Buddhist chaplaincies in prison. Against a "very Western" vision of religion as absolute dogma, and of Buddhism as a fixed representation of the world, he defends the idea that dharma - or spirituality - is a dynamic device dedicated to change, to the perpetual improvement of self and what surrounds us