Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887) was one of the most revered spiritual teachers in the history of Tibet, widely recognized as a scholar. Patrul Rinpoche was cremated at Khormo Olu, Dzachuka, in Eastern Tibet. Further down the valley is also the place where Patrul Rinpoche attained ultimate spiritual realization. He was never the head of a large monastery and held no particular rank. He was a wandering hermit. Exemplary holder of the purest Buddhist ideals of renunciation, wisdom and compassion, Patrul Rinpoche spent most of his life walking over hill and dale, living in caves, forests and secluded hermitages, imparting his teachings to disciples who found him here and there. When he left a place, he had no specific destination in mind; when he stayed in a place, he had no fixed plan. When he dwelt in the great wilderness of Tibet, he specifically meditated on the development of bodhicitta: the wish to relieve all beings of suffering and bring them to the ultimate freedom of enlightenment.
In the footsteps of Patrul
In the 1980s, I started reading Patrul Rinpoche's spiritual advice in Tibetan. I began to write down the stories of his life that I heard from the mouths of my masters. My main teachers, Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in particular, had known disciples of Patrul Rinpoche. The many anecdotes they told were still very close to their source. For thirty-five years, I have transcribed more than a hundred eminently inspiring anecdotes, each of which constitutes a valuable lesson. During more than twenty trips to Eastern Tibet, I collected other stories and testimonies and I retraced the steps of the great hermit by visiting the places where he had lived, the caves and the hermitages where he retired. I also met other masters and hermits, eighteen in total, who told me about other events in Patrul's life. This treasure of teachings was now rich enough to be shared with a wider audience. With the help of two friends, Constance Wilkinson and Carisse Busquet, we therefore prepared an English translation (Enligthened Vagabond), and another in French. I am therefore particularly pleased that the resulting work is now available from Éditions Padmakara.
“In the face of cardboard fame, I am convinced that the message transmitted by the life of Patrul Rinpoche can only do good. »
Many of my fellow Buddhist practitioners have told me that they were very inspired by the story of the life of this exemplary master. I myself have been nurtured by a constantly renewed admiration during the thirty-five years of this work. However, I could not help comparing the modest circulation of this book, so precious in my eyes, with those, much more substantial, of works of general interest that I have been able to write elsewhere. Is this simply because books like The Wanderer of Awakening do not benefit from extensive media coverage? The way in which these media can thus construct and deconstruct a book or someone's reputation is a good lesson in modesty. No need to be fooled by a cardboard fame! I obviously don't think readers aren't interested in what really matters in life, quite the contrary, I'm convinced that the message conveyed by Patrul Rinpoche's life can only do good. As far as I am concerned, accomplishing this work has been one of the most rewarding of my modest work as a witness.
As the Dalai Lama writes in his preface: “Beloved for his humility and respected for his vast and profound knowledge, but also as a highly realized yogi, Patrul attracted disciples from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism […] Biographies Eminent Spiritual Teachers is not just a series of stories intended to entertain readers. They are a source of inspiration and knowledge for those who will follow in their footsteps."