Life at the Buddhist Camp

In 1995, my mother decided to leave Paris and brought me with her to a Buddhist camp, in the Alps. I was three years old. My parents had already broken up so my dad remained in Paris.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane!

Welcome to Disney Land

Have you seen the movie “The Beach”? Do you remember how Leonardo DiCaprio is living the dream as he steps foot on this wonderful secret island? That’s what we got, at first. The place was beautiful. It smelled like freedom, it felt quiet and good. People thought of themselves as different. They had developed a unique relationship with time. No capitalism there! You worked for the community, and the community helped you. My mom was employed there as a designer for their monthly magazine.

We had a small wooden house, so small that we slept in the same bed. My mother loved the place and she was involved in various activities. I remember that once, I woke up alone in the house, in the morning. I ran around the the entire camp in panic, shouting and sobbing. She was at the temple, meditating. They used to do this a lot, meditate. Meditate. How does it sound?

A True Fairy Tale

It sounds weird. Weird like Asian people working in the kitchens, without knowledge of French, without passports. Weird like a spiritual guide who likes to pop drugs and have sex with the newcomers. Bitter, like this question that still haunts my thoughts, 15 years after: “what about mom?” It sounds weird like a hundred happy faces, wandering in the camp, shaking hands and talking spirituality, when almost half of them had done some time in a mental facility. Everybody carries baggage, but theirs were of the heavy type.

At some point my mother had a boyfriend who looked like Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. He was really nice and talked in a smooth, almost creepy voice. However, he didn’t want to drive a car, which used to annoy my mom. Why didn’t he want to drive? A few years before this he was in another car with his fiancee, the love of his life, when they got into a car accident. He made it, she didn’t. Of course, he was driving. This guy meditated a lot, too.

I remember this nice couple who had just had a son. He must be around fifteen now. His family collapsed when he was still a baby. Was it because the spiritual guide had sex with his mom in front of his father? The father was a fragile guy. I heard later that while performing, the guide was telling him: “elevate your mind”. They all meditated a lot, too.

I grew up surrounded by people who talked about how bad the outside world was. A whole society of men and women who had created their fantasy world and wanted to stick with it, no matter the cost.

Don’t Get Stuck in your Buddhist Camp

The world is full of Buddhist Camps, of people living in closed environments who don’t want to pay attention to what’s outside. They don’t see the dark side of their fantasy. They’re fine with it as long as it enables their dream to live longer. It took my mom ten years, multiple lawsuits and a few crazy moments to get out of this trap.

I have come a long way since then. Now that I think about it, I realize how much I owe these people. They changed my life. They made me understand early that I had to move fast and never stop. They showed me the damage that getting stuck in one world can do to your life.

We all have our comfort zones, it’s hard to break away from them. Those things seem obvious to us, so we don’t question them, we get blinded. Sometimes, breaking free is the only way to see things the way they truly are. If I could give one single piece of advice to the people I care about, it would be this: “don’t get stuck in your buddhist camp.”

I hope I won’t.

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