... I began searching for a spiritual teaching and finally wrote to Arnaud Desjardins whose name I knew through his various films on the oriental spirituality (ashrams in India, Tibetan masters, Sufi masters in Afghanistan, Zen monasteries in Japan). This was in 1973, when Arnaud was just about to create his first ashram. I began following his teaching on a regular basis.
On this particular path, private interviews with the master were at the core of the relationship between him and his disciples. I remember the question I asked him when I saw him privately for the first time: “I understand that your path implies going through crisis. Will you be strong enough to guide me through them?” Without knowing it, I was “testing the guru,” and having a premonition of what my path would be at his side.
At that young age, I was entertaining dreams regarding my future. Impressed by what I had perceived from my father, I wanted to become an actress and a famous writer. However, it seems that it is not our personality which decides our destiny, but rather our essence, because none of this came true.
I had no idea whatsoever that my whole life would be devoted to Arnaud Desjardins and that I would live most of my life on an ashram. When my relationship changed after 13 years and Arnaud entered into my life in a more personal way, it was the beginning of enormous turmoil for me, which lasted for years. I had already done a lot of work on the unconscious, but suddenly deeply buried emotions came up to the surface and I was devastated, one crisis after another. There was a long period of purification which gave me plenty of opportunities to experience the answer to the question that I had asked Arnaud regarding his ability to guide me.
It took time before I could really feel the blessing which underlies everything and guides us through the vicissitudes of our lives.
Friday, September 5th, 2.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.
"Advaita Vedanta – There Is No Way Out Except Acceptance"
Some Words from Véronique Desjardins
“When people say they cannot practice, they are trying to practice something other than where and what they are. They do not want to accept what is going on for them. People want something other than what is happening. If we can be one with a situation without emotion, this is good, but often because of our past, life awakens our storehouse of negative emotions. So we must practice where we are now.
“If we want to grow, then we must decide that everything in life is an opportunity to advance on the path. If all we want is satisfaction, this is not sufficient motivation. We won't be strong enough to face difficult circumstances.
“Decide ahead of time; ‘I want to learn, to grow, to see what I haven't seen yet about myself, or haven’t lived consciously.’ Decide that you want to see, not that you want to stop being childish, for this may be impossible right now.
“The path is gradual. If you feel dependent, consciously live your dependence. To be free of identification with roles in your life (being the money earner, being the mother, etc.) and to rest in being, you must fully live these roles. Feel the satisfaction and joys, as well as the painful aspects of these roles, so that your identification with them can fall away. Instead of considering some parts of reality as bad, experiment to contact all parts of reality. The being that we are will emerge from experiencing in this way. Our real being will emerge through conscious experiencing.
“We may want to go beyond emotions and renounce them, but as incarnated beings we must see how emotions actually work in our lives, and go through our experiences. We cannot simply renounce negative and positive emotions. We don’t progress because we don’t fully live our experiences. If you live them half way you will need to repeat them again and again. Living them fully, a full yes, will lead to an equanimity that is beyond emotion.”
Friday, September 5th 6.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m.
Questions & Answers with Véronique Desjardins and Tessa Bielecki
Veroniqué Desjardins is a student and the wife of Arnaud Desjardins. He is a disciple of the late Swami Prajnanpad from Bengal, India. Arnaud left a successful career as a film maker in the early 1970s and became one of the first spiritual teachers to bring Advaita Vedanta from India to Europe.
From this time onwards, Veroniqué has been amongst the earliest students in Arnaud’s community called Association “Les amis d’Hauteville”, which today comprises a student body of 2.000 people with spiritual centres in France and Canada.
In her teachings, Veroniqué translates Vedanta with pristine clarity into a pragmatic and affirming way of life. She has a unique way to reach people’s hearts with the possibility of “being one with”, the complete acceptance of what is, as it is, here and now.
Porte donnant sur la voie (transl.: The Door that Directs Towards the Path) Véronique Desjardins 2008
- Lettres à une jeune disciple (transl.: Letters to a young female Student) Véronique Desjardins und Arnaud Desjardins 2006
- Les formules de Swâmi Prajnânpad (transl.: The Formulae/Teachings of Swami Prajnanpad), Arnaud Desjardins und Véronique Desjardins 2003
- L'ami spirituel (transl.: The Spiritual Friend) Arnaud Desjardins und Véronique Loiseleur 1999
- L'audace de vivre (transl.: The Venture of Life) Arnaud Desjardins und Véronique Loiseleur 1999
- En relisant les Évangiles (transl.: Re-reading the Gospels) Arnaud Desjardins und Véronique Loiseleur 1990