Jigmé Thrinlé Gyatso: Vendéen of the summits

- through Sophie Solere

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The Himalayan hermitages are his second home. Since his meeting with the Ve Sengdrak Rinpoche (1) in 1994, on the Nepal-Tibetan border, the Vendéan Jigmé Thrinlé Gyatso has kept an unfailing link with these peaks, where he learned to live in retreat, in the tranquility of a life austere. After spending several years at the Drukpa center in Plouray (Morbihan), the lama now wishes to share his teachings in his native lands, within the Mypam and Drukpa Vendée associations.

Sitting in a wooden armchair, under a painting representing Milarepa, Lama Jigmé Thrinlé Gyatso, his head shaved, wears an ocher shirt and a red robe, in the style of Tibetan monks. The bay window in the living room overlooks the sunny garden. His home, a few kilometers from the Vendée coast, allows him to go on solitary retreats.

In a sideboard on our right, a Japanese black Buddha catches our eye. To his left is a golden statue of Shakya Shri (2), a great 5th century yogi, depicted with dreadlocks and a long black beard. Around, mysterious plexiglass stupas preserve several relics. “Some come from the disciples Rahula and Ananda, contemporaries of the Buddha. Others are linked to my master, the XNUMXth Sengdrak Rinpoche”, specifies Lama Thrinlé, faithful to the Drukpa Kagyü lineage, in the Kagyüpa tradition.

Dharma and “geopoetics”

These sacred objects remind him of the journey he has traveled. As a child, Yves Boudéro – by his civil name – already imagines himself a monk. But it was his piano teacher, a former Carmelite, who really opened him up to spirituality, at the age of 17, through Saint-Jean de la Croix. In the lama's library, the writings of the Spanish mystic rub shoulders with books of poetry. An art that Thrinlé is particularly fond of, both in reading and in writing. The works of Kenneth White, a Scottish poet residing in Brittany, are numerous in his collection. "This intellectual nomad, at the origin of 'geopoetics', somehow oriented me towards the Dharma", he acknowledges.

It is also through the text that the Vendéen discovers the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. “It really convinced me. I was a little suspicious at first, for fear of finding myself in a sect. But his fears were dispelled when, in 1986, he listened to the Dalai Lama at a conference in Paris. “Finally someone who lives what he says, I said to myself”. At this memory, a smile lights up this face.

In 1986, he listened to the Dalai Lama during a conference in Paris. “Finally someone who lives what he says, I said to myself”.

Jigmé Thrinlé Gyatso turns his head towards a black and white portrait: that of Kenchen Yeshe Tcheudar Rinpoche (3). It was with this doctor of Buddhist philosophy that he took refuge on January 1, 1987, at the Drukpa center in Plouray, before commuting every week between Morbihan and Paris, where he continued his studies in philosophy and then Tibetan, at Inalco.

Lama Thrinlé pauses to take a sip of apple juice. “While I was in Darjeeling in 1989, I asked His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa if he could send a lama to France. The same year, Drubpön Ngawang Tenzin arrived in Plouray. I then translated the Bhutanese lama for ten years. »

Chickens, goats and leeches

Thrinlé having then expressed his wish to practice more intensively in retreat and to leave his administrative responsibilities at the Morbihan center, Gyalwang Drukpa sent him to the great yogi Sengdrak Rinpoche. On the other side of the room is one of his portraits. In 1994, he went to the master's hermitage, on the Nepal-Tibetan border. The Vendéen will always remember this first journey. Four hours drive from Kathmandu, followed by a day's walk in the mountains. “It was the monsoon. It was raining heavily and there were leeches everywhere. He contracts dysentery. On his arrival, to top it off, he learns that Sengdrak Rinpoche is in retirement for a year. No way to let yourself be discouraged. “I stayed sleeping, eating and practicing in the assembly hall. In this place of community life, everything looked like a joyful mess: the salt was drying on the ground, the hens and goats were coming in, people were passing by. After a month, I learned wonderful news: Sengdrak Rinpoche, who was expecting the visit of his master from Tibet, Adeu Rinpoche (4), would be released earlier than expected. I was finally going to meet a hermit who lived like Milarepa ».

Sengdrak Rinpoche, "more than a father and a mother"

From the first contact, the bond is very strong. “He was more than a father and a mother to me. He lodged me, made me tea and food, lent me the damaru drum of his previous incarnation for the practice of tcheu (5). The Frenchman feels all the more privileged that he is authorized to follow the teachings of Adeu Rinpoche in the presence of many great masters, in a small monastery in Kathmandu.

Lama Thrinlé takes a trip to the kitchen to warm the vegetarian couscous on the stove, in preparation for lunch. “I returned to France to apply what I had learned”. He still travels regularly to Nepal, despite the death of Sengdrak Rinpoche in 2005.

“The Dalai Lama often cited my master as an example. I wanted to bring his life to light.” What he did in 2010, thanks to the photographer Yann Rollo van de Vyver whom he met in a temple in Kathmandu. Their book, Hermitages in Sherpa Country, shows the benevolence among the religious and villagers who lead an austere but peaceful existence in the Himalayas. The 2015 earthquakes dealt them a severe blow, but the temples have been rebuilt. And life resumes its course.

As for Lama Thrinlé, he continues his path in the Dharma. In February 2020, he received the certificate of approval from the Buddhist Union of France to become a Buddhist chaplain in the hospital environment. A new adventure that delights him: "I will no doubt propose to open a chaplaincy at the hospital of La Roche-sur-Yon and another at the hospital of Sables-d'Olonne". The Vendée lama, very attentive on a daily basis, will then be able to bring his benevolence to the patients as well as to the nursing staff.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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