Birds leave no trace in the sky… by Danièle Masset

- through Fabrice Groult

Published on

The theme of nature is only discreetly present in Buddhist literature, and its most expressive modulations are to be found in poetic texts, of which Danièle Masset offers here a transversal reading, limited to the Indo-Tibetan domain. This reading is based on the exploration of a corpus covering more than two millennia, from the stanzas of the Pali canon to the songs of Tibetan masters such as Milarepa. The nature staged in this set is seen in the mirror of religious and literary conventions, but it also constitutes a mirror of the world and of doctrine. It inspires many images faithfully transmitted over time. The study of these metamorphoses is an opportunity to highlight the deep continuity that unites the Indian and Tibetan traditions, but also to discover, or rediscover, a relationship with nature that is no longer ours, a complicity whose we have lost the secret.

Excerpt from the intro:

“The theme of nature is not one that imposed itself immediately on Westerners who have chosen to study Buddhist literature: other religious, historical or philosophical subjects have held their attention more. In this they espoused the point of view of the Buddhists themselves, followers of a doctrine in which this theme has nothing central. What is more, the notion of nature has no exact equivalent in ancient Indian thought, at least when it is approached as we will do here in its most concrete sense, not as a "set of characteristics defining a being or an object" ("nature of fire", "human nature"), but as a "set of beings and things constituting the terrestrial universe (1)", among which man can be understood or not, depending on whether or not it is posited as exterior to this set. On this point, some of the texts that will be discussed in this book are at the antipodes of modern Western thought, where man is defined as a being of culture more or less dissociated from a nature that he can then transform into an object. study or as an object of love, by cultivating a "feeling of nature" which has nothing universal about it, and which attests to the nostalgia for a unity whose secret has been lost over time, and in a cultural context specific to Western societies (2). »

In partnership with the Institute of Buddhist Studies (

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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