Edmond Pezet

Born in 1923 in a family of poor farmers living in Lot Prefecture in France, Edmond Pezet was drafted in 1946 into a French expeditionary force bound for Indochina. It was there that he decided to return to Southeast Asia as a missionary priest: “I felt the need to try to make atonement that would compensate, in a modest way, for the harm I had witnessed being done to the Vietnamese people.”

In a recently published book “Edmond Pezet, a priest among the buddhist monks in Thailand” (….pages), we can discover very large extracts of his mail sent to his friends and superiors, as well as a selection of articles published in various journals. In 1950, one year after being ordained a priest, he worked for a few years as a teacher in a school of his diocese of Cahors. In 1956, he was sent by the Society of the Auxiliaries of the Mission (S.A.M.) to serve as a native bishop in Northeast Thailand. For more than twelve years, he shared the hard life of the villagers, adapting himself to their customs and their severe living standards. It pained him to see that the local clergy confined itself to recommending to Christians and to people asking for baptism religious practices not related to their culture.  At the same time, his interest in Buddhist spirituality of the Thai people increased.

In 1970, Edmond Pezet went to a university in Bangkok to study Sanskrit and Buddhist doctrine. He stayed at that time in the wat (monastery) of an urban monk. Later, he shared the contemplative life of the “Monks of the Forest” who follow the rigorous practice of the Elders.  After that, Pezet provided paramedical service in a camp for Cambodian refugees. Little by little, his way of life and his relations with Buddhists found him becoming quite distant from authorities of the official church. Finally, in 1989, he returned to France where he spent his remaining years as a country priest.

Pezet was able to absorb on his own the fundamental intuition of the Buddha, that is, the perception of the ultimate in the reality of every moment. For him the important thing was not to compare doctrines.  He was able to grasp the key doctrines of Buddhist spirituality, thanks to his dedicated practice of meditation he found among the Buddhist monks. In other words, he discovered a new way of looking at reality.

In a recently published book “Edmond Pezet, a priest among the buddhist monks in Thailand” (381 pages) which came out recently, we can discover very large extracts of his letter-writing sent to his friends and superiors, and also a selection of articles published in various journals. Their reading will allow those who have become conscious of the limits of dogmatic assertions to deepen the ultimate meaning of their own lives. 

 Thanks to their writings and friends, memories of Fathers Monchanin and Le Saux, who encountered Hinduism, are? kept in France and in the Church. Concerning his encounter with Buddhism, Edmond Pezet was their equal in terms of merit, but because of his modesty,? his self-effacement, and his very ordinary looks, many people were unaware of him and took no notice of this?exceptional being and great spiritual personality that he had and still has. It is unfortunate that in the Church, even among its leaders, people did not use Pezet's experience and his competence. »

Gérard Bessière