Patrick Carré: the Buddhist novelist

- through Francois Leclercq

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Patrick Carré has been established in the Dordogne for more than forty years, very close to the teaching places of the Tibetan masters. Author of six novels, he now devotes himself entirely to the translation of Buddhist texts. He is passionate about the study of languages, and the literary beauty of writing, in Tibetan as in Chinese, the height. But he does not stop at these two languages, his library overflowing with dictionaries which he “reads like novels”.

What was the very first contact with Buddhism?

A book, Buddhism by Edward Conze. I read it because it was recommended to me. Anyway, it was “oriental” and, for me, everything oriental is blessed!

Why did this book affect you so much?

I read this book around the age of fifteen, when I was in boarding school near Paris. As I lived in Lille, where I returned every weekend, I read a lot on the train. Today, I feel like I've never read so well as on the train… A year later, I lost my father. When I heard the unbearable news, I passed out, a state in which I stayed for quite a while. When I woke up, the first thing that came to mind was the idea that nothing was true, that everything was rushing towards its annihilation, and that it was hellish. I was with cousins, turning a few crucifixes upside down as symbols. off topic ". Things from Buddhism that I had read then came back to me, mainly the idea that everything is suffering and that there is a remedy for suffering. However, I did not become a Buddhist.

What was before Buddhism?

A very strong rejection of Catholicism, insofar as I had been brought up in a religious boarding school by individuals who did not practice what they preached.

When did your first real contact with Buddhism occur?

Several years later. At the age of twenty-one, I found myself free to work or not, since I could dispose of my father's inheritance. I had in my pocket a contract from the Asiatheque bookstore to translate directly from Tibetan to French The Book of the Dead. In Kathmandu, I said to the first Tibetan I met at the Swayambhunath temple (1): "I am looking for The Book of the Dead tibetan ". He replied, "I can provide it for you, but come to my house first." He was a painter who wanted to show me his paintings and those of his brother, who was a monk. The latter was beautiful, tranquil, inspiring. He was sitting near a window and painting a deity. Madeleine, my wife at the time, immediately fell in love with him. She said, "I want to become a Buddhist right now!" And me: “I want to follow you”. This anecdote is hardly romanticized! We therefore went to “take refuge” in Bauddha, where we each received a Tibetan name given by Thrangu Rinpoche. Although renamed “Karma Samdrup” (literally “one whose vows are fulfilled”), I did not yet feel like a Buddhist.

“When my mind wanders off, I bring it back to visualization, the hardest part being realizing that my mind has once again slipped away from me. These are the first obstacles to meditation, and I feel like I'm still there, at my age. But I had moments of vision that overwhelmed me and kept me going. »

It took me a year and a return to Kathmandu to have clearer ideas on this subject. The painter then asked me: "How is the meditation going?" "Me, nothing, but Madeleine would really like to learn to meditate!" One morning, the monk-painter arrived at my house, laden with three books and a small scroll: "Here, here is the little scroll." I had told him that I loved Manjushri without knowing why. “I would like Madeleine to practice it and for you to translate it, you will ask Manjushri to bless you to do so. A little choked, I answer: "Certainly, but someone would have to explain it to me." – “I think one person would be suitable: Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche. So I looked for Takloung Tsétrul Rinpoche in the big Tibetan refugee camps in northern India, then I returned to France without having found him. I was then told: “Dudjom Rinpoche is in Paris and the Rinpoche you are looking for is part of his retinue”. As I had a reputation as a translator, I found myself translating the teachings of Dudjom Rinpoche. I sneaked backstage before the very first teaching and magically stumbled across the Rinpoche I was looking for! I told him outright that I wanted him to be my master. “You have to see,” he replies. It was then that a great love affair began with the one I have the audacity – bad practitioner that I am – to consider as my “master of wisdom”. At the moment, I feel a little "put aside", it must be to make me understand that I still have a lot of things to change in my little person.

Do you practice daily?

Somehow, but daily.

Are translations part of the practice?

Yes I think. By dint of seeing me struggling to practice, Rinpoche ended up reassuring me: “Your practice is translation”. To this practice of translation, I therefore try to add devotional practices, concentration exercises, which I try to do according to the tantra method. When my mind wanders, I bring it back to the visualization, the hardest part being realizing that my mind has once again slipped away from me. These are the first obstacles to meditation, and I feel like I'm still there, at my age. But I had moments of vision that overwhelmed me and kept me going.

What school do you belong to?

I came across a Nyingmapa master, and quite naturally, I am Nyingmapa.

Has Buddhism changed your relationship with others?

I tended to look down on the whole world; today, that has really changed. My intellectual pride seems laughable to me. All of this is passing. From now on, as a matter of principle, I listen as much as possible and only judge if it proves to be essential.

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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