In Mahamudra Ling, nature to find oneself

- through Fabrice Groult

Published on

At the edge of a forest in Perche, Normandy, is the Mahamudra Ling centre. This place offers retreatants a unique opportunity to reconnect with the elements and with themselves. Since 2011, many people, alone or in groups, come to live there to the rhythm of meditation sessions or to practice activities in peace. Ani Yeshé Lamo, nun of the Vajrayana tradition, welcomes visitors with warmth and kindness.

At the bend of many pastures where Normandy cows graze, the gravel driveway leads to the house with the flat tiles, characteristic of the Perche. The door is open. Ani Yeshé Lamo, busy in the kitchen in her nun's robe, welcomes us with a big smile. “Fortunately, I like to cook. Even with just one retreatant, it's three times a day,” she says with a smile. She mixes onions, tomatoes and lettuce in the salad bowl. Most come from the vegetable garden, just next door. Ani's daughter, Michaela, and her granddaughter, Amber, arrive with watermelons in their hands and take over in the kitchen. The opportunity to go around the center with Ani Yeshé Lamo. Its activity really started in 2011, when Ani came to occupy the premises, at the request of Lama Gyourmé. “Up to the forest, below, is Mahamudra Ling,” the nun points out. The land, which has five hectares, includes two large buildings and three small houses, the latter being reserved for retreatants.

“A beautiful parenthesis”

A Qigong group from Pontoise currently resides there. In a corner of greenery, below the garden, the participants move their arms slowly, following their breathing. The Qigong group completes its last activity. Some leave to tidy up their rooms. Mireille, 65, prefers to stay in the garden. "We feel here the calm, the simplicity, which allows us to follow our program in all serenity". “It was a nice break,” confirms Annie, 70, who is also resting on a deck chair. "A course over several days allows for more in-depth work, with more emotions than weekly lessons", explains the teacher. She comes here for the second time and praises Ani Yeshé Lamo's “five-star vegetarian cuisine”. Mathieu, a 32-year-old salesman, seated in the shade, agrees: “It's nice to be able to pick up the slack”.

“We are no different from anything around us. Such are the laws of interdependence”. Ani Yeshe Lamo

Josette, the Qi qong teacher from the Bouger autre association, discovered the site about ten years ago. “Ani is so welcoming and available that I feel like I'm visiting someone from my family,” she says. She considers herself to be a Buddhist sympathizer and particularly likes this place "which allows you to work on slowness, gentleness, benevolence, the relationship with nature", she rejoices.

Mantras and cymbals

Returning to the main house, I see from afar, under an umbrella, a white Buddha in the middle of floral and mineral compositions. “Often, people take me for a florist,” laughs Ani. Lunch time is approaching. While the group gathers around a table in the garden, our host returns to the kitchen. While cutting avocados, she explains to me the course of the days at Mahamudra Ling. Four daily meditation sessions are offered: the Green Tara, Mahakala, Chenrezi and Tcheu rituals. Other prayers or events can be added, depending on the time of year: animal liberation rituals at each full moon, retreats of Milarepa, reiki or yoga, but also gardening and outdoor artistic practice.

Sonia, a retreatant, arrives just in time for the ritual of Mahakala, “the Protector of the Buddha's teaching and the activities of our masters”. Ani Yeshé Lamo settles in the temple, facing the hall, and recites prayers dedicated to this cult. Then, she goes on with the Chenrezi ritual, explaining to those present: “We are now going to accustom our mind to compassion so that suffering in sentient beings ceases”. When the moment comes for the recitation of the mantras, the tinkling of the cymbals and the sound of the gong resound in the temple. Then, Ani invites us to stay in the nature of the spirit.

Meditate to the sound of the stream

While the weekend group shares tea, Chili, the ginger and white house cat, rests in the soft evening glow. Meanwhile, Ani has gone back to cooking dinner and is cutting carrots and leeks in the kitchen. Soup and vegetarian quiche are on the menu.

The next day, the Green Tara ritual at 7 a.m. marks the start of the day. Prayers to the tree of refuge, offerings to the mandala, recitation of mantras and meditation alternate for an hour...

Breakfast is then taken in silence: muesli, honey with nuts, bread and dried fruit delight the taste buds of the guests.

While the morning sun tints the white Buddha, placed on its rock, Ani escapes towards the forest. Rays of light pass through the leaves and make the stream sparkle in the distance. The nun stops, sits in the lotus position, near a small stream, and begins a meditation to the sound of water. A deer passes a few meters away, casts a furtive glance at him. Further on, a mud pool reveals a kind of natural “bathtub” where wild boars like to roll. “Here, it's a micro-universe,” Ani tells me, accompanying me on this retreat in the middle of nature. She often offers retreatants a meditation where they sit on stones in the middle of flowers, in the forest, so that they can reconnect with nature and with themselves. This link with the universe is essential for the nun who adds: “We are not different from everything around us. Such are the laws of interdependence”.

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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