The adventure began in 2010 in the refectory of a monastery, on the heights of Kathmandu. The photographer Yann Rollo van de Vyver met the Vendéan Lama Jigmé Thrinlé Gyatso, disciple of the 5th Sengdrak Rinpoche (1947-2005). Together, they decide to climb the steep slopes of the sherpa country leading to the hermitages founded by this master of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and his disciples, on the Nepal-Tibetan border.
The Buddhist monk and the photographer stayed at the Liping and Bakhang monasteries several times, between 2010 and 2015. The photos reveal many everyday scenes: a dog resting near a nun at the stove, the peeling of white carrots for preparing noodle soup, yaks strolling in the middle of ancient stupas, children educated in the open air facing the Himalayan peaks… A harvest of images expressing wonder and tranquility.
The culmination of this report takes place during the enthronement ceremonies of the 6th Sengdrak Rinpoche and during the 10th anniversary of the death of his predecessor. The Tibetans are adorned with jewelry, the monks wearing the gomsha - the headdress of meditation. The young tulku Yangsi Sengdrak Rinpoche blesses the endless lines of devotees. We see Tibetan dancers masked for the auspicious dance and colorful processions.
Yann Rollo van de Vyver returned to the scene in the spring of 2015, shortly after the terrible earthquakes that shook the villages. The prayer wheel has collapsed, the anguish is palpable among young boys keeping their hands joined. Nuns and soldiers set up makeshift tents. The principle of impermanence is clearly exposed before the eyes of the photographer.
To better understand the conditions of monastic life, the historian Laurent Deshayes presents, at the beginning of the book, the eremitic tradition in Buddhism since its origins. Matthieu Ricard, who knew the 5th Sengdrak Rinpoche from the early 1980s, also contributed to this book, donating many photos.