Lama Drupgyu: unconditional compassion 

- through Francois Leclercq

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National prison chaplain since 2014, Fabienne Guillaume has always cared about others. After practicing Chinese medicine, she fully found herself in Tibetan Buddhism of the Karma Kagyu tradition. After several retreats and an intense investment in her community, Droupgyu became a lama. She now practices compassion with the inmates she meets.

Already as a child, Fabienne Guillaume could not conceive of her happiness without also thinking about that of others. “When I was ten years old, I remember one evening when, sitting on the wall of a Charentaise beach with my girlfriends, we made a wish while watching a shooting star pass in the sky. The girls wished to meet Prince Charming, the classic wish for little girls. And I remember saying, "I don't want that for me, because I won't be happy that way." I wanted to include others in this inspiration, it was already a Buddhist thought, but I didn't know it," she murmurs, sitting on a sofa, facing the chair reserved for the masters of the Karma Kagyu school, in one of the apartments of the Dhagpo Kundreul Ling monastery, in Bost (Puy-de-Dôme).

Her desire to help others first led her to Chinese medicine. Leaving school at sixteen, Fabienne Guillaume discovered this discipline three years later. But, during her ten years of study and four years of practice, the questions she asked multiplied: "I noticed that, if we did not solve more fundamental problems of the mind, people fell ill again" . And, she adds: "It was undoubtedly the teachings of the master of Taoist Chinese medicine that I followed which led me to Buddhism, because the way of the Buddha transpired in his teaching".

The master's inspiration

“My deepest wish was to be able to be kind to everyone, without distinction, and to treat the sick in the same way. But how to be equanimous with all beings? At twenty-seven, Fabienne Guillaume is inhabited by this question. A Buddhist friend of the Karma Kagyu tradition then offered to meet her master, Lama Gendune Rinpoche, at the Dhagpo Kagyu Ling monastery, in Dordogne. “In his presence, I had the feeling of having found my family and I understood that he had realized what I aspired to. ".

Fabienne Guillaume thus took refuge in 1991, taking the name of Yéshé Tcheundreun (Droupgyu being his monastic name received in 1994). The master tells him two practices to do: that of Chenrezi (The Buddha of compassion) and Sangyé Menla (The Buddha of medicine). “I returned to Paris and practiced at home for at least an hour and a half every day before going to work”. A year later, Droupgyu announced to Lama Gendune his wish to do a three-year retreat: "He laughed, told me that it was a good idea, but that to do a three-year retreat, you had to prepare . " What she does.

“To meditate is to train the mind. »

“The lived experience, brought up to date, of the teachings during the retreats makes it possible to overcome their apparent dogmatism”. Thus, during his two three-year retreats, from 1994 to 1997 and from 1998 to 2001, Droupgyu deepened the fundamental principles: do no harm, develop virtue and control one's mind. “The wish to be equanimous, to be in love and to share it raises the question of the means to be deployed to achieve this. The Buddhist path gives them to us. Meditation, for example, allows us to go to the heart of our functioning to promote what inspires us, without denying the conflicting aspects that sometimes arise in our minds. »

“What I find touching are the flashes of joy that appear when, through sharing the Dharma, inmates have sparks of freedom in their prison space. »

On leaving retirement, Droupgyu devoted himself to the activity of the monastery. In particular in charge of communication, she also accompanies lamas who teach, while regularly doing retreats of a few months. Until the day when his spiritual tutors ask him to become a lama in turn. And, this is how since 2008, Lama Droupgyu has been teaching the basics, "mainly the Buddha of compassion", in the Dhagpo Kagyu Ling and Dhagpo Kundreul Ling monasteries, as well as in the fifty Karma Teksoum Tcheuling (KTT) centers, attached to the Karma Kagyu lineage.

wonder in the moment

Since 2014, Lama Droupgyu has also been National Chaplain of prisons. Initially, she said, “I agreed to do it for just one year. And in the end, I stayed. This new function enriches it on a daily basis. “What I find touching are the flashes of joy that appear when, through sharing the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha, prisoners experience a sense of inner freedom in the prison space. Freedom is first in the mind and they experience it”. Another factor of spiritual enrichment: “to work with Buddhists of other schools, Zen, Theravada and other Tibetan traditions… and with national chaplains of other faiths, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Orthodox”. And, she specifies: “This dialogue, these exchanges, are very important. They enrich us mutually. Like the day when I shared with 600 Catholic chaplains during a colloquium in Lourdes, a practice of meditation”.

All of this has contributed to the evolution of his practice. Lama Droupgyu remarks that there is less and less expectation in her: "We must welcome what arises in the spirit at every moment and not become attached, make wishes for the benefit of beings" she explains.

Today, she hopes to bring "gentleness, kindness and appeasement" to those around her. “I try to share the joy of being on a meaningful path”. For Droupgyu, this path is constantly enriched. “The more one studies, the more one discovers the vastness of the enlightened qualities of the Buddha. Even after 25 years of practice, I am still as amazed and dazzled »

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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