Selected points of reference in order to understand the motivations, the conclusions, the search and the achievements.
Let me jump over the first 4 years spent in subsaharian Africa, in Dakar and in Abidjan where I have been pampered by african nannies. Back in greater Paris, born of a catholic mother and a jewish father, both of them atheists and non believers, I find myself several times crouching on my bed – I am 8 years old – in the middle of the night, in the little room I was sharing with my 7 year younger brother, calling out to “god” (unknown and not part of my education) begging him to save me…
With 14, I am a voracious reader of existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Karl Jaspers, “The Great Initiates” of Edouard Schuré, among others. When I go for holidays, it is with a suitcase full of books and dictionaries in several volumes. I take tons of notes. One year later, disappointed with western philosophers, finding an echo to my disillusion in an autobiography of Jaspers describing the limitations of western philosophy, I set out to find another message in the specialised bookshops in the Quartier Latin in Paris.
With 15, I come across Krishnamurti (through his books), the contemporary indian philosopher. It was THE revelation. When I go to school, I sort of attend class from the back of the classroom, in order to concentrate on my reading. “To liberate oneself from the known” was the first book by Krishnamurti which I read, hoping secretely to liberate myself from all the useless data I was accumulating at school.
The road. At the end of this school year, 2 years before the baccalaureate, I decide to go hitch-hiking to Scandinavia in order to find real philosophers that were actually living what I was discovering with wonder in books. It was the time of flower power, of hippies, of the Beatles, of the migrations towards India, of Woodstock, of Ravi Shankar and of the May 1968 student revolution in France. I set out with a guitar in hand, a small shoulder bag, 2 books and 300 french francs.
India. I quickly realise that it is not with those grass smoking drop-outs that were oozing a pseudo indianising philosophy that I will find what I seek. I hit the road again, this time heading south, until I am picked up in the middle of a rainy night on some secondary roadside in Italy by the man who became my first mentor. I discover yoga and learn the basics of spirituality and with him travel for the first time to India with 16. The agenda? Encounters with indian “saints” and sages, ashram visits. During 8 years I spent the 6 winter months in India and the 6 summer months in Italy. During this period I travel to India twice overland, by public local transport, prefiguring what I am planning to do under different circumstances.
With 24, yet another turn. I decide to settle down to the average middle class dream: a job, a wife, a family… However I have the idea to say goodbye to India beforehand. I leave for a 3 week visit and stay 6 continuous years. On the 5th year, I meet my (ex) spiritual master and take the monastic vows. Meanwhile I have become an expert in Indology and Hindusim. I have studied sanscrit and the sacred indian scriptures in the original. I have read the Bible several times from A to Z, the Quran and the mystics of several religions.
Returning. Too useful to stay out of the way, my ex-master sends me back to the West to speak out but also to lay the foundation of her future visits, which became the european foundations of her empire. I come back with the yellow robes late 1984. I am 30. I am “squatting” in a servants quarters under the roof in Paris, an 8sqm room (85 sqft) without heating and start my first public talks in the West, my first workshops.
Ministry. During 8 years, as spokesman and interpretor of my ex-master, I travel throughout Europe giving talks in several languages. While doing that, developing my own discourse, I set up a wide network of connections though my independent workshops and conferences. I end up travelling 10 000 kms per month. The last year, thanks to the gift of a follower, a center is born, in Alsace, France’s eastern most region abutting Germany and Switzerland. All these years of ministry, I am confronted with the world and with the Human. I gradually mature and learn about the intricacies and complexities of the human psyche and my engagement and dedication takes another colouring. Until I understand that I will not be able to continue growing and maturing if I stick to the vows of chastity and poverty. I decide to become a layman and to embrace my humaneness in all its fragility and all its contradictions.
Return to lay life. My ex-master and the disciples do not understand or accept my decision. They conspire against me and alienate me from my network. I am removed from my ex-master’s biographies. The “divorce” is consummated. In 1993, at nearly 40, I have to integrate (for the 1st time) in society, in professional life – starting from nothing, from an academic and historic black hole, enriched and empowered by a wealth that was not of this world. I marry. We have no children. Seven years later, I separate and leave german speaking Switzerland for Geneva where, in 2001, I set out to look for an activity related to Human Rights. This section is described in the previous submenu called The context.