Master and Therapist is the outcome of five years' work in India. Its central topic is the help-relationship, that is how and why a person helps another person. I chose especially to study the model of the help-relationship existing between the spiritual master and the disciple in the Hindu tradition, because I know that it is a topic little known to Western or westernized Indian readers. In the third part, I establish a comparison with the therapist, who is a more familiar personage in the Western culture. Before entering into the core of the matter, it may be useful to give an idea of how I came to write this book.

I started my higher studies with mathematics and physics. They were useful to me in the sense that they gave me the taste for exploration of concepts and of those mental constructions that mathematical models are. But I experienced also with the limits of abstract thinking, where the important relationship between subject and object, body and spirit, is ignored.

I turned then to medicine. These studies too have been useful, because through them I could better grasp the relationship between body and mind, a bit through my theoretical studies but especially through my daily contact with sick persons. I could see, day after day, that the psychic and the somatic were like two mirrors facing each other; in between an internal event is reflected endlessly. But I also experienced the limits of the medical models: in practice, psychology was considered as the fifth wheel of the car, a luxury in which the doctor was able to indulge oneself with one's patients on those rare days when he had some free time.

Thus, I turned to psychiatry. These studies were useful to me inasmuch as through them I could understand some basic mechanisms of the psyche by observing their pathological perturbations. I saw extreme pathological sickness, often on the occasion of duty with emergency cases: those who have just tried to commit suicide, patients in full delirium, once a schizophrenic teen-ager who killed his father and mother, another time an impulsive — the least that can be said — father who murdered his daughter with a gun because she said something that he did not like. I could add those desperate patients who spread AIDS around well aware of what they were doing, before they themselves died of this disease. I was also able to observe pathological states in another culture: I worked for fifteen months as a psychiatrist in Algeria, where, together with a colleague, I was responsible for an area of one million inhabitants.

Having met in India some gurus and yogis who have gone deep into the exploration of their own mind, I could see the other extreme: from a psyche least conscious of itself, to a psyche which is extremely conscious of its own Self. I could see the difference and personally verify that even if they are rare, still there exist some people whose psyche approaches perfection; this fact of traditional psychology corresponds to a reality, an important reality, though at times discreet in its manifestation. Considering itself as a science, psychiatry keeps a radical distinction between the subject-doctor and the patient-object, and this is its limitation.

And so, I turned to psychotherapy, where one is expected to have an experience of one's own self before taking charge of other people. This study has been useful to me in the sense that it made me aware of the extent to which the psyche of one who helps and of one who is helped are interdependent, and also of the difficulty of being objective in this domain. But I also experienced the limits of the model of psychopathology and of a study on mind based on its false turns. I felt as if I was attempting to become a great pianist by learning by heart lists of mistakes that beginners are prone to make in reading Beethoven's Letter to Elisa or Mozart's The Turkish March; to put it differently, one should not extrapolate spiritual psychology from psychopathology. I could see that as long as psychotherapy remains within the limits of its domain, it retains its usefulness. But, if it claims to become a world view, an "erzatz" of philosophy or religion or especially of the spiritual path, it is being misleading.

Notwithstanding all the emotional emphasis surrounding it, Western psychotherapy remains, as I see it, at the level of an odd and amateurish job, when compared to the traditional ways of exploring the mind, if the latter are well understood. I shall develop this idea in the last chapter. Certainly, a "bricolage" is better than nothing at all, and many people are satisfied with it. But it could also be that neither the patient nor the therapist know that there exist other time-proved means for exploring and developing oneself.

Then, I turned toward India, and deepened my experience in meditation. I had practised some traditional techniques of interiorisation even before starting my studies in psychiatry; they had already taught me how to tackle negativities within myself first, and then these which come from clients in everyday practice. This problem of transference exists for all therapists, but talking about it from time to time or reading some articles on the subject is clearly not sufficent . For some therapists, this problem of transference may take dramatic proportions: there was for instance a young doctor doing his internship in the psychiatric hospital of Villejuif near Paris who, ten years before my own work there, lived in the room near the one I occupied; he committed suicide one Christmas night.

One could ask me, after these years in India, what limitations I have found in the practice of meditation. I could answer that a definition of meditation could be: "to sit and to accept one's limitations here and now", which is a concrete means by which to transcend them. Dogen, a XIIIth century Zen Master, said: "By accepting one's own limits, one becomes without limits". This is an advice to be meditated upon, even if one feels that one's capacities for meditation are limited...

My work in India was to identify the kind of helps -call it psychological or spiritual- that guru could give to their disciples. To my mind, it was the logical continuation of what I had studied in psychiatry. I had been learning by watching the sessions of experienced psychiatrists with their patients, now I was continuing to learn by examining the relationship of the gurus with their disciples. In this way I felt that I was meeting my responsibilities as a psychiatrist: to find some therapeutic methods that would be really effective on a long term basis. While studying Indian teachings, I could see how their techniques of exploring the mind had stabilized into tradition over many centuries of experimentation. They have their internal logic and such psycho-spiritual logic was worth studying and examining carefully. It was these considerations that pushed me to go to India, rather than any attraction for the occult, which—I have to say it as a professional— I mistrust.

Another thing which attracted me at the same time towards authentic gurus is that they refuse to be pigeon-holed into small conceptual boxes. Generation after generation they have eluded the systematic attempts of philosophers and pandits (traditional learned people) to explain them, and they still elude today in the same way the attempts of armies of psychologists encircling them with their batteries of tests and bombarding them with psychopathological labels... They reaffirm, in this way, the supremacy of experience, of life, over concepts; these could be compared to a number of coffins gathered together in these great cemeteries called systems.

Some people may think that, after having passed these years in India in the company of gurus, I could come back to France and practise as a kind of guru. But this is not a further medical specialisation, neither a diploma that can be obtained by patiently attending classes in an institute. After having closely studied some authentic gurus, I could measure all the distance that there was between them and me. If I learned something, it is rather in the "art" of not being guru than in the art of being one; the art of not letting myself be involved, even unconsciously, in a long term relationship that I do not have the capacity of undertaking.

Purposely, I mixed the styles and the levels of approach in this book; I am not keen to be labeled, either as a psychologist, indologist, traveller, mystic, orientalist, historian of religions or a literary person. I am what I am.

Why have I written this book? First to repay the debt acquired towards those who have financed my staying in India : "La Formation des Français a l'étranger" (The Training of French People in Foreign Countries), then la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (House of Human Sciences) in Paris. I thank also UGC of Delhi, professors H.G. Singh of Hardwar, R.H.Singh and L.N. Sharma of Banaras, who have helped my staying from the adminitrative point of view. I left Paris with a scholarship Romain-Rolland, and my work is inscribed somehow in the continuation of that writer's own action: to let "the other" -whether German or Indian- known and recognized by French people. He wrote biographies of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, and entertained a correspondence with Sigmund Freud.

The principal aim of this book is to let people share in certain ideas that I found interesting in India, regarding the counselling relationship, and to compare them with Western psychotherapies. This topic is so broad that a book is not too much. The sources on which I draw are not new, but are difficult for a public living in the West to access; actually they are widely spread throughout India in the form of ashram publications or books released by small editors with limited distribution. As for the reading of Indological sources, they are difficult to access because of their very quantity. I have written more for my pleasure than because of I feel vested with any mission. To write is not, for me, a vital necessity, and I surely shall not do it all my life. Among the yogis whom I have met, few were writing, few seemed to feel to be vested by a special mission, and I have been influenced by their attitude. They say there are four methods to progress on the spiritual path: study of books, meetings with gurus,—or yogis who do not consider themselves as gurus—, personal experience in meditation and life, and interaction with people interested in this spiritual path.

I also write for those who are therapists without knowing it

This book is also written for those who are not therapists and who have hardly heard about what a spiritual Master may be. It is meant, in fact, for a large public: for those who are engaged in a help- relationship, be they instructors, parents, priests, psychotherapists, or even couples: loving is helping and being helped. According to the momento of couple relationship, the sense of help may be reversed, but generally a helping, supportive relationship is present in a way or another. There is a common point between romantic love, what is called "the great love", and the relationship of a disciple to his Master; it is the aspiration to be the other, to be one with him. But in the first instance, such aspiration or desire usually expresses itself in a physical form, and almost automatically it creates an attachment; while in the second case the relationship is not physical, and the guru knows how to let it evolve towards a total detachment and independence.

The psychological pattern, or archetype of the one who helps is present in every individual psyche, as well as in every culture. It has been specially developed in Hinduism. For the Hindu, to say that the Guru is God is not shocking. God is present, visible everywhere in nature, in animals, in human beings: the Guru is but the one in whom God is the most visible. If the Guru no longer has any ego, he becomes totally divine. If one watches carefully what this concretely represents, one will see there is no fundamental difference between this and the Christian tradition, where the disciple is adviced to see Christ in his spiritual father.

In Hinduism everyone has his own guru, from human beings to gods and demons; the guru of the demons is called Sukra in the Purana (medieval religious texts),—and Sukra is the planet Venus, while Brihaspati, or the planet Jupiter, is the guru of the gods. The Sadguru is the model of the perfect human being, he is the archetype of archetypes. He attained that transparency at which everybody aims, "like the crystal pillar under the midday sun which does not project any shadow."

It is not easy to speak about the relationship between Master and disciple to those who do not have any experience of it, who perhaps do not even know the possibility of its very existence. It is something like accompanying someone born deaf to a concert, but if one could make him aware that there is a full field of perceptions that he has not explored, one would not have lost one's time.

I discussed my method of work at the beginning of the section "Meeting and reflections" (Part II, chapter 1). When we are in a religious milieu in India, one has to take into account the deformation of facts due to the devotees' greediness for miracles or the gurus' possible megalomania. For this reason it is very important to examine whether or not a guru has a tendency to lie in everyday life; because if he lies for small things in practical life, there is no guarantee at all about his sincerity when he speaks about his spiritual experiences which belong to a blurred, intimate and unverifiable domain. It is because of this that I mistrust the "path of the trickster" where the Master is not bound by this respect for truth. A relationship grounded on such foundations does not seem to me to be any more firm than a house built on shifting sands.

During my years of field-work, it became clearer and clearer that one cannot use for yogis -who have behind them years of real and substained practice of mental development- the same criteria of psychopathological understanding as for a usual patient or the general population. The method of study is simply no longer suitable for the object, just as a microscope is not suitable to study stars.

Illusions of Realism and Reality of Ideal

The basis of traditional psychology is the possibility of perfect freedom called mukti in India. The guru is a signpost who shows the way to that state. I prefer not to speak in this respect of the "myth" of the perfect being, a term that is usually associated with the notion of fallacy. It is better to employ the term "ideal": something that does not exist in a normal, current manner, but at which one aims, tends, and that in certain cases may be realised. A friend who has been an anthropologist in India for eighteen years, has told me that, even after such a long time, she was still surprised by this capacity of the Hindus to project their myths — or ideals — onto reality. Obviously this projection creates problems if applied in the domain of the economy, industry or history. But in the mental field, which is much more malleable, and which responds to what is expected from it up to a certain extent, this capacity of projection becomes a force in itself.

Ethnopsychiatrists often imagine they have understood the gist of Indian psyche when they have interviewed a few schizophrenics in remote villages and have 'elicited' from them confidences regarding a few aspects of their delirium. But if a civilisation is to be understood without too many mistakes of perspective, the least we must do is to sympathise, if only slightly, with its system of values and its hierarchy. In India, this system has liberation (moksha) as its keystone, a state which is embodied by the Sadguru. It is necessary to have understood the illusions of realism in order to begin to grasp the reality of the ideal.

This book is not an academic work, though it can be useful to academic researches. In a sense, I have been an academic myself, because for about twenty years I have been registered, year after year, at the university, even if for the last ten years I was mostly doing research on my own. I utilised books by Indologists in order to have a basic knowledge of India. But this book is rather connected with the domain of comparative spiritual psychology. If I have freed myself from the academic style, it is because I felt that it was not the most suitable for the delicate subject-matter that I was working with. Moreover, having been connected with Buddhists, I was led to concretely meditate about the ultimate "vacuity" of intellect. Finally, if academic quotes are sparse, apart from the chapter on the psychotherapist, it is because I am more prone to present ideas of traditions rather than ideas about traditions. It is already enough work for the reader to assimilate the ideas of traditions regarding master and disciple without being overloaded by too many theoretical constructions of schools, often passing and disappearing like clouds in the sky, according to current intellectual fashions... However, my approach does not exclude the others: India has received many invaders from Aryans, to Greeks, Tartars and Moguls. She may still have to sustain some further invasions by ethnopsychiatrists, psycho-anthropologists, semantico-linguists, writers or thinkers.

Common people have always doubted that some beings may approach mental perfection. This book can help to clear this doubt, in the same way in the Middle Ages, Ibn Arabi wrote The Sufis of Andalusia in order to show to the "depressed" people of his time that one could still find Sufis worth that name in that period. This doubt, labelled "lucidity" by some who want to comfort themselves, will appear from the yogi's perspective to be the rationalisation of a chronic depressive tendency. Every tradition has developped its model of the "perfect man": al Insan al Kamil in Sufism, jivan-mukta or the "liberated in life" in Hinduism, bodhisattva or arhat in Buddhism, saint in Christianity, tzaddik in Judaism, especially in Hassidism. All these terms name the person who has ceased to identify himself with his ego, without, however, losing his capacity to function in normal life. He has to be differentiated from the Nietzschian super-man who has intensified and enlarged his ego and therefore feels himself authorised to better crush the others: the deviations to which such conceptions could lead are well known. If the ordinary person strengthens his ego by wishing to universalise it without purifying it, he strongly risks becoming a kind of "cosmic gorilla" rather than an accomplished human being.

Some people could say that I am not a realist, because I give importance to the guru-disciple relationship. A few books have been written on this subject by travellers in a hurry, and they could not see and understand what I have seen and understood. I shall first say that I do not claim to present Indian "reality" in its totality. This latter is complex; it is enough to remind the readers that India is a country with soon a billion inhabitants, and neither its governments nor its religions have ever been obsessed with the idea of centralisation and uniformity. I remained centred on my subject-matter — the relationship between guru and disciple, and on its direct context.

Secondly, I guess there are reasons why some superficial spiritual seekers, missionaries or journalists did not "find anything of interest" after touring India. To begin with, many of them pass through too quickly, without having prepared their trip, without having in their hands any address of people whom it would be useful to meet. Haphazardly, they meet a few gurus who actually do not have anything interesting to say, or who do not want to waste their knowledge on hasty travellers. Or, perhaps, they have already a guru, or think that they themselves are gurus, and come only to be reassured and saying to themselves: "It is just as I thought, India is finished, there is nothing interesting left." By spiritually beheading a billion Indians, they hope to grow themselves by a few centimetres. Or, again, they embark themselves into an indefinite criticism of the faults of India and of yogis, and cannot get out of it. There is, in this attitude, a problem, both psychological and spiritual: many things can be criticised, but coming constantly back to such a criticism proves that one's mind turns round into circles; it will cause more wrong than good to oneself. One may stub one's toe on a stone and feel pain, but the right attitude is to take the resolution of watching from that moment on where to step; it is not so clever to trouble oneself by getting furious and to kick the stone again strongly, because all that shall come out of it is a much more severe pain.

I was sensitised to Indian reality by living there day after day during these last years, by opening my eyes, by reading newspapers and by listening to what people say. I was specially sensitised to the difficult realities of the health system, in as far as I replaced an Indian friend, a doctor, in a remote village of the Himalaya, not far from Tibetan border, for some time. I asked my questions in Hindi and the attendant translated into Garwali, the regional dialect. I also went to work as a psychiatrist for the victims of Latur earthquake in Maharashtra in 1993. All that gave me an idea of the ongoing experience of the body, sickness and death in the depth of India. Moreover, reading the daily news in hindi helps my understanding of the current Indian context.

May One Still Live Isolated as in Middle Ages?

In the modern world, the expansion of the means of communication seem to have much increased the circulation of bad news; murders, wars, trains off the rail, etc. From a psychological point of view, there is sometimes in the media a kind of cycle between demand and supply that resembles sado-masochism. Fortunately, some more positive ideas circulate as well, even if they do not make the headlines in the newspapers. Some authentic representatives of spiritual traditions travel around, or people go and see them. Life is no longer compartementalised as in Medieval period where outside the Church salvation could not be found. There was nothing else, during that period, to satisfy one's spiritual curiosity other than some clandestine sects considered as heretics and a bit of witchcraft. This communication of spiritual ideas and practices between East and West represents more than a passing wave. For instance, at present there are, in the United States, about ten million people involved either in spiritual or in psychotherapeutic groups, which have something to do with oriental teaching (cf. Claxton, Beyond Therapy, Wisdom Publications, London, 1986). Here we are faced with a phenomenon which is all the more significant : the East is, properly speaking, no longer in fashion, but some of its ideas are on their way to being integrated into Western culture. Just as the politically victorious Roman empire has been in fact conquered by Greek philosophy and Judaism in the form of its offshot, Christianity, in the same way the current West may be conquered by a form or another of Eastern teachings.

This development is spontaneous and answers a need. It is not a planned mission, since in India there is no central organisation comparable to Vatican City or the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith motivated to make such plans. However, this evolution is not going on without friction with the pre-existing powers. Materialists suddenly ally themselves with Churches in trying to thwart this very spiritual effervescence which escapes their understanding. They largely use the old technique of "disinformation" by grouping all spiritual movements under the label of `sect', and by trying to associate all groups with the worst sects, like the Solar Temple which pushed its followers to commit suicide, and to use them as scape-goat, something that allows them to make forget the defects of their own system. By the way, the far worst sect according to its results, that of Jim Jones which has brought about the suicide of nine hundred people in Guyana, was a purely Western sect of Biblical inspiration: they had taken Apocalypse a bit too literally.

One can see the sign of a fight for power, in the very name of a group—a real anti-sect sect—which cares for the counter brainwashing of the members of these new religions on request of the families that want to "recover their good": this organisation is called POWER (People Organised Workshop against Ersatz Religion) (A. Burr, I Am Not My Body, Vikas, New Delhi, 1984, p. 257). There are also Christian fundamentalist groups which accept money from familes to kidnap cult members and 'deprogram' them using violence and sensory deprivation. Christianity, after having sent its missions for centuries to India, is very afraid of a back-fire; it is what Hindus would call the law of karma. Nevertheless, Hinduism is not a missionary religion and over all it refuses conversions. I wrote an article on psychological violence and manipulation of mind (Itinérances No 2, Albin Michel, Paris, 1986) and I shall come back to this topic in the last chapter. Nevertheless, it can be stated here, briefly, that psychological brainwashing cannot have so much effect once the subjects are out of the group in which they underwent such violence. If people remain attached to a teaching for a long period, it is because they find a satisfaction in it. This book may give criteria of discrimination in this field.

Fortunately, the influence of Oriental spirituality in the West is not always a conflictual one. In the same way, Christian action in India was not always aggressive, though sometimes it was so. In the field of psychology the transpersonal movement has become an established institution: it is specially interested by the relationship between modern psychology and traditional paths. Among members of the Churches, quite a few individuals are open to other forms of spirituality or meditation.

Since Alexander the Great, who loved to dispute with the yogis of his time—the gymnosophists of Bactrian—Indian wisdom has interested the West inasmuch as it was known, from the end of eighteenth century. Hegel discussed the Upanishads in his courses of philosophy, Schopenhauer recognised his debt toward Indian thought, Victor Hugo read the Vedas and draw an inspiration from them for his masterwork "La légende des siècles". More recently Mircea Eliade did not hesitate to follow the practical teachings of Shivananda at Rishikesh for some time, and the number of Western intellectuals who have benefitted from India has largely increased since the end of the last World War.

Unity behind the Diversity

Behind the many attributes of a spiritual Master discussed in this book, coherence and unity come out. It is not only a general affirmation, I think that the material I have collected shows it rather clearly. Obviouslyly, such affirmations of unity are not well thought of by the religious fundamentalists or by the university scholars, for different reasons: the fundamentalists wish their religion to be the only valid one, and the academics may be stuck in narrow specialisation, or depend upon a reductionist theory to interpret the reality.

Sages, on the other hand, go beyond their differences in order to become aware of the unity that had always been there, but that had been forgotten, just as one becomes aware of a cinema's screen once the film has stopped.

Looking for unity is important because it creates the ground for a real tolerance. Not the false tolerance of the person for whom everything is equal and who is not interested in anything, but the authentic tolerance of the one who has really lived a spiritual path and who can recognise his own experience in that of other paths. This is essential if a religious renaissance is not to turn into fundamentalism. If one is attached to the idea that the only respectable knowledge is that of the specialist, I do not see any inconvenience in defining the yogi as a "specialist of the universal Self".

The West is not as tolerant as it appears towards the independent mystic. The latter, often, does not benefit from the support and protection of a spiritual Master as in India. He is caught between the power of male clergy, who want to monopolise the direction of souls and even exclude women, i.e., nuns, from this, on one side, and the materialist thinking, on the other: the latter keeps hold of people by using the chemical "straitjacket" of medicines or the psychological straitjacket of therapeutical theories.

The question is not to reject Christianity or Western psychology, but it would be good, even only from an intellectual point of view, to be able to position them in a larger frame. Modern psychology has developed an independent existence partly because of the rigidity of Christianity and of its mistrust towards techniques of introspection, which are felt as too precise and which could lead to experiences and conclusions different from those authorised by dogma. In this way, the conception of the West is actually divided between the psychological and the religious, between two systems with a shared tendency to exclude one another like oil and water.

The situation is very different in India. Modern psychology is so little developed that nobody thinks to exclude it. Moreover, if a guru decides to use some methods of psychology, and some do, he would have clients interested in it; nobody would criticise him on behalf of an orthodoxy, which, in Hinduism, has the great advantage of being rather fluid and decentralised. Thanks to God, one could say... but, indeed, all the Hindus do not believe in God. An Indian professor of University asked a group of students: "Are you Hindus?" All answered "Yes". "Could you give me three specific criteria of Hinduism with respect to other religions?" No students could agree on these three criteria; finally, they turned to their professor who equally was unable to determine them.

A guru's independence allows him to answer people's demand more precisely, here is an important factor of Hindu religious vitality, as we shall see later. The interest of the concentration on the Sadguru is clearly expressed in Indian psychology: one becomes what one meditates upon; one benefits from—or one is a victim of—one's own mental projections: there is the story of a dog which enters a room whose walls, ceiling and floor are covered with mirrors. It sees dogs everywhere, and start barking. It sees all dogs barking at the same time, gets very frightened and barks even harder; eventually it dies of exhaustion. A sage enters in the same room, sees sages everywhere and rejoices. He understands that all sages are but one and attains Realisation. Concentrating, transferring one's affective energy onto someone who is other and with whom there is no hope to have physical relationship helps one to effect this very delicate process of sublimation, of transmutation of sexual energy. The other may be either the guru, or the psychotherapist, or the Lady of courtly love, as it was the case in the Middle Ages.

There is Reading and Reading

In as far as this book transmits a certain number of teachings on the spiritual Master, it cannot be read as hastily as an ordinary book. I tried to put in it the best, the "cream" of Hindu tradition on the subject-matter. Too much cream at a time may be heavy to digest; it is better to read this book slowly... I quote many stories and I wish to say, with Rabbi Nachman de Bratzlav: "The stories that I narrate are not made for going to sleep, but for waking up." Though the presentation of its subject be linear—it would be difficult to do it differently in a book— its reading should be "holographic", each story containing in itself a reflection of all the other stories. If the reader is sufficiently relaxed, takes his time and allows words, images and sensations to be associated little by little he will attain that "holographic reading", and reach an intuition of what Indians call "twilight language" (sandhya bhasha). I hope that from all the paragraphs of this work the portrait of spiritual Master, which is a kind of archetype for the therapist, will gradually release itself and this through successive touches, like in an Impressionist painting.

Practically, in the footnotes at the end of the book there is nothing else but references to the quotations. I say this so that the reader would not feel obliged to repeatedly refer to them. Those who are not drawn by the history of Indian tradition regarding gurus, may start directly from the second part of the first chapter. They shall find there the essential elements for understanding what is a guru in India in our times. I have explained technical words as they come along and I have generally put them into brackets or italicised in their original language, followed by their translation, to give to the reader the possibility of leaving them aside if they do not want to burden their mind with a new vocabulary. A glossary of the main Sanskrit words is at the end of the volume.

In my thanks I have first to mention my mother, who, in Indian tradition, is the first guru. By her daily practice of modern and ancient Chinese from about the last twenty years, and her study of traditional texts in acupuncture, she gave me a natural opening to the East. I thank also my late father who, during his free time had developed a considerable knowledge of comparative philosophies and religions, and has made this kind of studies almost natural for me.

I have also to thank here Pierre Mathieu who encouraged my beginnings in yoga practice, Dr. Bardis who influenced my choice in specialisation by showing me through his example that one could be a psychiatrist, while at the same time happy and balanced, the late Dom Hourlier of Solesmes, specialist of Medieval monastic history, whose simplicity was equal to his erudition, Said Artebas, of Sétif, in Algeria, who was always generous with his time to let me grasp the spirituality of his Sufi brotherhood, whose representative he was. Roshi Taisen Deshimaru who taught me the foundations of Zen meditations, S.N. Goenka who tirelessly transmits Vipassana techniques which he learned from his master U Ba Khin, and Lama Denis Teundroup who preceded me for his beginnings in India in the Philosophy department of Banaras Hindu University, and who has shown me that Tibetan tradition had its role in the spiritual maturing of the West today. I also thank Dr. Uma M. Vesci, a historian of religions who has been living since more than thirty years in India and who has accepted to translate this book into English. My thanks go to Kate Zeiss and Anna Hall as well, who have re-read the manuscript, in spite of all the work they had to do for their respective Ph.D in Bananras and in Oxford.

The gurus and disciples whom I have met during my years in India are too many for me to even number. Allow me just to thank Swamis Ashisananda, Jnanananda and especially Vijayananda for the help they have given me. The latter, is a French medical doctor who became a disciple of Anandamayi Ma and resides since the last forty years in India, following the path of yoga. He has spared much of his time and attention in order to let me grasp what, in Hinduism and in the teachings on meditation, may be useful for a Westerner. His ideas are very present in this book, which I would have with pleasure dedicated to him if I did not know quite certainly that he does not care for all this.

Jacques Vigne