How did you encounter Buddhism?
It was in 1976. Professor of literature, I lived near Paris and I was interested in spiritualities in general. I had received a Catholic education and I read a lot of books on the different traditions. Friends suggested I go see a Tibetan lama, Kalou Rinpoche, in Burgundy. I seized the opportunity.
It was not Buddhism that interested me in particular, but rather the personality of Kalu Rinpoche. Rather than an intellectual approach, it is the meeting of a person. He was someone of great wisdom, simple, who diffused great light, certainty and a lot of love. I quickly began to practice in Paris, at the Kagyu-Dzong center, with Lama Gyourmé.
You started a three-year retreat in 1980 where you met your master, Bokar Rinpoche. How did you feel when you met him?
I felt a very strong emotion, a great dazzle, as if I met someone who was obvious, with whom there was a very strong bond. He exuded a very great, very visible love. I think everyone said that about him. This retreat changed my life: when I left, I did not go back to my previous profession, because Kalou Rinpoche had asked me to teach as a lama. I then became an interpreter by a combination of circumstances: I knew Tibetan and I could translate them. But it was indeed a joy to be at their side, to serve them.
What fundamental principles speak to you the most and how do you practice them on a daily basis?
I think the fundamental principle of Buddhism is to decrease the ego, to have less attachments. We therefore have more benevolence for others. The practice involves, on the one hand, moments devoted to different forms of meditation and, on the other hand, vigilance in the face of what is going on in one's mind, so as not to be caught up in the disturbances.
You take care of Buddhist centers in the south of France. You are also an editor at Claire Lumière. Is transmission through books essential for the development of Buddhism in the West?
I manage small centers in Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. In Aix, we meet every Monday evening, in Avignon one Sunday a month, and in Grenoble two weekends a year. So it's not a very big load. Above all, I try to make the link between the people who come and the great masters. My hope is that followers can meet them.
“When I met Bokar Rinpoche, I felt a very strong emotion, a great dazzle, as if I met someone who was obvious, with whom there was a very strong bond. He exuded a very great, very visible love.
In the East there are many masters and lamas. The bond therefore passes a lot through individual meetings. In Western culture, the book is very important in the transmission. Many people start with reading before meeting great masters. We have published books by Kalou Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, His Holiness the Karmapa, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche… Around ten authors. They are the ones who choose the themes of their works. Transmitting their teachings in this way is important to me.
What do you think Buddhist teaching can bring to the societal, environmental and spiritual crises we are experiencing?
Buddhist teaching does not necessarily ask questions in terms of social groups, but rather in individual terms. If you have an inner voice, you have a weaker ego, so it shows in relationships with others. A society is a collection of individuals: if each individual develops more benevolence, society as a whole will be better