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Éléa has left us

Eléa Redel, 74, died of rheumatoid polyarthritis, on January 7, 2022, in Lavaur, France

Eléa Rédel with Lama Yéshé in the 80s

Eléa Redel was finally released from her long-term physical suffering.

Geshe Loden, our resident teacher, was at her side and informed Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who responded immediately. Instructions were given and Eléa, lying on her bed, entered straightaway into meditation while Geshe-la and IVY director Nicolas Brun offered practices. She remained absorbed for five days without showing any external sign of death. A message came from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s secretary expressing that Chenrezig was taking care of the departure of our dearest friend.

Eléa was born in France in 1947. She met Lama Yeshe in 1979 in Dharamsala and became actively involved in the FPMT organization. In France, she served as a translator and founder of Vajra Yogini Publications (now “Editions Mahayana”). In India, she was the director of Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program, one of the leading schools in the training of specialized interpreters and translators from Tibetan.

Eléa was a charismatic and sensitive person, and people enjoyed her company. She was also an intelligent student, who got her inspiration and wisdom from her kind heart. Although she never studied in a strictly academic way, her knowledge of Dharma was both very thorough and practical. She had an unwavering devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose words she translated or helped to translate into French. She was a reliable and meticulous translator and copy editor.

Eléa was the first person I met when I arrived at Institut Vajra Yogini in 1981 during Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s visit. She immediately struck me as being a leading figure there. At this time, she would wear rainbow-colored woolen gloves with cut-off fingers as she spent her days typing on an old machine. (We did not have computers or even heaters in those days.) I soon discovered that behind her rainbow gloves were fingers that had started to swell and take on a deformed aspect. Day by day, as her whole body slowly transformed, pain and infirmity became more and more vicious. But she was brave and did not let her crippling disease stop her from serving the community and the Dharma. She also continued to travel to India and Nepal for teachings and retreats, and went on a pilgrimage to Tibet with Rinpoche.

Although tortured physically, her inner rainbow light continued to shine through and illuminate her environment and friends. Her suffering gradually became a catalyst for spiritual growth. And her way of accepting her illness, with forbearance and patience, revealed a true bodhisattva heart. Her courage was indeed a source of admiration and inspiration for many of us.

In the last years of her life she could not eat, drink, stand up, walk, go to bed, or get up by herself. She needed assistance every time she moved and had to cope mentally with her dependence on others for whatever activity she had to perform or anything she wished to do. Very tough to take for such an independent person!
Gradually she had to let go of her work as a translator and copy editor. In the last years, she concentrated mainly on doing her practices and advised whoever came to visit her. During one of my last visits, she told me that if she had the chance to find another precious human life, she would like to come back as a graceful and sensuous lady whose practice of Dharma would benefit others by “mere sight.” Isn’t it strange that we all wish to be what we already are!
Eléa was indeed a beautiful lady, wearing the armor of patience and perseverance, and exemplifying a bodhisattva training in the six perfections. Remembering her, my yo-yo heart fluctuates between sadness and joy.

Christian Charrier, IVY, February 6, 2022.