Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer: from the call of the sea to the quest for meaning

- through Henry Oudin

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His passion was no longer enough for him. An engineer in competition yachts, Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer gave up everything in 1994 to give meaning to his life. Deeply marked by his meeting with Lama Guendun Rinpoche, he joined Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyupa tradition. Now a lama, he tries to apply compassion and openness on a daily basis, as administrator of Dhagpo centers and trainer in companies.

In 1993, Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer had a dream life. Passionate about sailing, he has worked for ten years as a research engineer in competition sailing boats in La Rochelle, and teaches in several schools. “I had all the external conditions to be happy, but I found that my life was singularly lacking in meaning. It created a kind of frustration in me. It was time for me to find a way to understand what is going on in the mind,” recalls the 57-year-old lama. Since childhood, the trained scientist has been very curious to understand how the universe works. “I studied mathematics, physics, biology, astrophysics, quantum mechanics… I wanted to know interaction between the spirit and the universe; I saw that there was something to look for. »

It was then that friends offered him to cross the Atlantic by sail in December 1993. Buddhism. » After a week, the navigators were picked off by a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Refugees at the port of Gijon (Spain), they remain at the quay for six weeks. “I read a lot, especially a book on meditation by Bokar Rinpoche. I started to practice, and many answers to underlying questions rose in my mind, like intuitions. another book, The hidden spirit of freedom of Tartang Tulku, spoke of the Buddhist vision of the world; I found this philosophy quite relevant to the questions I was asking myself. »

“Lama Guendun, the person I had always been looking for”

Jean-Guy remains cautious, however. “I wanted to know if the Buddhists practiced in accordance with what I had read”. In January 2014, the engineer arrived in Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, in Dordogne, where he notably met Lama Jigmé Rinpoché. "I exclaimed, 'Buddhism is amazing!' But, and this surprised me, he did not give way to my enthusiasm. He just said, “You just have to do a few internships and you'll see for yourself”. After reflection, this reassured me, because it left me full responsibility for my commitment. »

A lesson with Lama Guendune Rinpoche, three months later, definitely changed him. “It was like meeting the person I had always been looking for through teachers or my grandfather, the academician Jacques de Bourbon Busset. Someone who gives me knowledge that gives meaning to my life. »

At first, Jean-Guy meditates fifteen minutes a day and attends courses at least once a month at Dhagpo Kundreul Ling (Puy-de-Dôme). “I wasn't moving as fast as I thought I could. My pride took a hit, and it did me good! “, he assures. To deepen his practice, he commits even more. “After a year and a half, in December 1994, I left everything in La Rochelle to join the monastery. And, in March 1998, with the agreement of Lama Guendune, I began a three-year retreat. »

Meditation and benevolence on a daily basis

Initially, the Buddha is an idea, a concept. “But, gradually, we no longer need to cling to it, because this idea becomes obvious. Buddha nature is nothing but the innate qualities of heart and mind. By meditating twelve hours a day, we meet our fears and realize that they are not based on anything. We surrender and we stop wanting to control things. We see something unspeakable arise, of great fullness”.

“Teaching with Lama Gendune Rinpoche was like meeting the person I had always been looking for through teachers or my grandfather, the academician Jacques de Bourbon Busset. Someone who gives me knowledge that gives meaning to my life. »

Barely out of his first retreat, in June 2001, Jean-Guy goes on to a second, a month later, until November 2004. Today, he affirms that "everything is in us, that there is no nothing to look for outside oneself. From the confidence that one acquires by meditating, a great benevolence can take place towards the others, the situations”.

This benevolence, he tries to apply it on a daily basis, relying on his morning exercise. “I get up very early, around 5 a.m. I devote two hours to this observance. After connecting with trust, I recite the sadhana, which includes phrases with very deep meanings. Arrived meditation. Visualization arises more naturally, even if it sometimes requires efforts of vigilance, because one can be distracted by thoughts. We do not reject them, because, to relax, we must accept it fully. The formal practice infuses us and, during the day, we maintain this openness. So I try, from the morning, to be at the service of colleagues, visitors to the center, of the situation. »

Science and emptiness

From 7:30 am, Jean-Guy, who is project manager and administrator at Dhagpo Kagyu Ling and Dhagpo Kundreul Ling, gets busy. He leads an internship group, takes part in meetings, works on files… “Before, when I had an objective, something fixed was determined. Today, what may seem like a priority one day may not be so a week later. You have to adapt, ask yourself why do this project? As a lama, Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer shares his teaching in the Dhagpo centers in France, as well as in Belgium.

Buddhist practice did not fail to shed light on his scientific questions. “For the Buddha, one cannot distinguish the mind from all that manifests. The notion of emptiness is the understanding that things have no substance of their own because they share the same structure. In quantum mechanics, matter either has a particle-like behavior, like small pebbles, or it has a wave-like behavior, like waves on the ocean. We would be so reassured if we could freeze, define things. In Buddhism, there are very simple demonstrations which show that we will never get there.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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