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.