Fabrice Champion, trapeze artist, poet, and well-loved member of Shambhala Europe, died in Peru on November 25, 2011. It is reported that he died during a shamanic healing ceremony.
Fabrice performed with Les Arts Sauts (see video below from 2002). In 2004, he collided with a fellow acrobat during a practice session for a new show. Injuries from the ensuing fall left him a quadriplegic for the remainder of his life.
Fabrice was my witness when I got married this spring ; Another friend, a Chi Gong practitioner, who met him then for the first time, was touched enough by this encounter to investigate about him on the internet; there he discovered his poems; When receiving the news of his passing away he sent me right away this poem of Fabrice, which we read at the Sukhavati ceremony in Marseille. I do my best to translate it here from French, sorry for my mistakes in English, as Fabrice had as much as a Frenchie accent as I do, please just smile at them:
Today is a good day to die.
I am aware that each breath is a suspended death.
I accomplish each gesture as if it was be the last one.
Each time I pass I’m challenged to give up the desire for success, each start is an affront to the fear of failing. Failure and success are ego’s ghosts. I jump into the emptiness with no luggage, open-hearted and with a fresh mind. I don’t need the burden of pride anymore. I forget that I want to be handsome and loved. No need to be someone! A rat, I am a stinking rat!
May I be free from pride. No blame, no reward, any fault is chimeric.
Within the unborn confidence of manifesting wind horse, I give up on my attempt to control my appearance, and I take off as I am, with no goal, like a prehistoric dancer, pure expression of causeless joy, free from hope and fear. Complete by essence, like a ray of light, I cross space, effortlessly dismissing shame and glory.
When I wait for a sign of the bearer, my concentration is free of tension. For the start, I go across doubt, relaxed and determined. I let myself go in the present moment. My belly foaming with stage fright is an inexhaustible energy source. I’m overflowing with energy. I feel my body is ready. I am synchronized.
The fear of cosmic solitude suddenly brushes against my diaphragm, another time shall I give in to snivel: how can I consider holding back, how can I forget those who came to see us give. Your happiness is my happiness. My happiness is your happiness. May your attention inspire me towards authenticity and generosity. My heart opens up and radiates out, simply, free from fabrication. I am available, ready to play, like a kitten.
I laugh for the pleasure of flying, I laugh because I am free, I laugh because I love those who are around me.
With my heart, authentic of sadness where joy and sorrow melt in sublime nectar, I fly, I invade space. Space invades me.
To this I can only add:
When the flower
Turns into liquor
No misfortune there
But one weeps
Quand la fleur
Se transforme en li-coeur
Ce n’est pas un malheur
Mais on pleure
To the Gentle Fearless Kasung
I met Fabrice a couple of times at Dechen Choling while attending programs but never got the chance to talk much with him. Once during a Kasung mess while I was being self conscious and wallowing in my nervousness (as I’m mostly around Kasung) I was struck by Fabrice’s fearless and joyful presence. I noticed that he was thoroughly enjoying the moment and his drink and soared free from occupation which made me feel jealous.
Sometime later during the Scorpions Seal Assembly II he asked me if he could have the microphone during the lunch announcements. I brought him the microphone and he gently requested that people please not to just grab his wheelchair and start pushing him since he sometimes needs the exercise and also that his wheelchair was like an extension of his body and he would appreciate if people asked him first if he would like any help before just grabbing his wheelchair and start pushing him. I found his request to make total sense.
A day or so later while the program attendees where going up the hilly side by the flags at Dechen Choling I noticed that he was struggling to move forward up the hill. “Shit!, I thought to myself” remembering his request few days earlier and was now afraid to ask him if he would like me to help him (even though it was obvious that he could really use some). Nevertheless I leaped into the situation and asked him, “Fabrice, would you like me to help you” He turned around and kindly replied “Yes please!” for which I felt relieved.
The ride uphill soon turned to be very bumpy and the ground was fairly uneven and I surely didn’t expect him to be so heavy either. So I mustered all my strength and was going slow and careful in order not to have him fall of his wheelchair on my watch. While I was seemingly doing my best he asked in a somewhat irritated tone “Can we go faster!” This abruptly snapped me out of any fears I had and instead of trying to help him I just helped him straight up the hill. After we reached even grounds where he could further help himself I saluted him and left.
16th December 2011
I have heard from Peter Bancel in Paris that the circumstances of Fabrice’s passing are now known. Ms. Anne Boiteux, from Paris, has been in contact with two Frenchmen who were in the same group as Fabrice at the shaman center in Peru. One of them (Olivier) wrote a letter describing his last hours.
Fabrice apparently died in his sleep in the long house where the group was staying. The cause of death appears to have been a pulmonary embolism a blood clot, which probably formed in one of his legs during the two long flights to Peru, and subsequently migrated to an artery in the lungs. According to Ms. Boiteux, who is a medical doctor, this is a very plausible scenario given Fabrice’s long voyage from France and his condition. She also pointed out that the embolism causes a sudden death and it is unlikely that Fabrice experienced prolonged physical suffering.
Olivier is a buddhist practitioner, he and Fabrice had mutual friends in the Shambhala sangha, and he said the shaman center was taking good care of him. The day after Fabrice’s passing, the group gathered for a ceremony to pray together and be present for Fabrice.
I hope this news can be edited and included in the tribute.
I wrote this in remembrance to Fabrice. Maybe it will be interesting for you. I wrote it two weeks ago. The first part is my feeling about him, the second part is a transcription of a teaching from Fabrice, and the last is the feeling of several people from Spain.Wishing the best for him, Antonio Plana.
Here is Antonio’s rememberance for Fabrice Champion: In-remembrance-of-Fabrice-Champion
For Fabrice Champion
I remember the way you drew out my name, “Biiiilll”–
It had so much affection, irony, artistry in it, soft and lilting at the same time, the whole world implied in sound.
It was as if you were on the high wire, even as you sat in your wheelchair.
Your spirit flew, and very likely it is flying now,
On to realms of which I know not but suspect to be the higher ones.
The last time I saw you we had dinner with three lovely Swiss ladies
And one true German gentleman in Koln, which he said was the best dinner of his life.
It was magic all around, especially your immense humor,
That grew like a cloud and enveloped us all,
Drinking good white wine on the sidewalk deep into night–
There was no end to it…just as there is no end to awake mind,
Or to the soaring lungta of a young man in the prime of coemergent existence,
Swathed in physical pain and incredulous at life’s tragedies.
Fabrice, you made a gesture like an elf in the forest,
And I thought I understand you.
Still I feel your smile.
Bon voyage, mon ami!
November 30th 2011
Fabrice Champion performing during Les Arts Sauts’ Production of Kayasine in Paris, 2002. This video was made by Finton and Gina Thomson for the Documentary, “The Art of Falling” © Finton Mahony 2005.
From the annnual Shambhala Arts Day event at Dechen Choling. Performed by Herbert Elsky and Fabrice Champion. Video by Jean Francois Louis