This is the story of Sabine and Sabira, who are both members of the Reiyukai community. It illustrates how applying wisdom and compassion in our daily lives transforms us and others around us. What presided over Sabine and Sabira’s meeting? Their desire to transform themselves and to resolve deep karmic suffering. Together they walk the path of Buddhism: they learn to polish their hearts and open their consciousnesses, and unlock worlds of wisdom and kindliness where war, negativity and violence used to reign… for the benefit of their families and the young people around them. Along the way, unknown worlds of relationships from the past that still influence their existence today appear. Only the development of wisdom and compassion will free them and provide deep meaning to their encounter.
In the form of a dialogue, they trace the broad lines of several years of common research.
Sabine : Hello everyone, my name is Sabine. I’m 43 years old. I have been a member of Reiyukai Buddhism for just over 20 years. I met the teaching of the Lotus Sutra after a serious accident, an ordeal that pushed me to seek the help of my ancestors and to commit myself, in return, not to waste my life any more.
Sabira : Hello my name is Sabira. I’m 39 years old. I live in Angoulême and I met Reiyukai 13 years ago. I was going through difficult times and I was questioning myself. I wanted to find a meaning to my life. I felt that I had to go to Algeria to visit the graves of my ancestors and ask for their help. On my return from this trip, I met Sabine and through her, the Reiyukai.
Sabine : We met in a sensitive neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city of Angoulême, in the southwest of France where we both live today.
Sabira : It is a district which, for several decades, has mainly welcomed immigrant populations, especially from the Maghreb.
Sabine : 13 years ago, in January 2005, I participated in a meeting where the teaching was share d. I heard that one can really aspire to make an encounter, that one can wish to receive a “companion, a spiritual friend”, with whom one will be able to accomplish an essential path of transformation and karmic resolution. I also heard that around us, there are beings who have a particular link with the Buddha’s teaching and that the strength of our determination can make them appear. It all went deep into my heart and I said to myself, “I hear this, it’s possible to verify it!” I then began to recite the entire Lotus Sutra for 28 days to be inspired, with the ardent wish to live this encounter, and with great confidence.
Sabira : I didn’t know Sabine yet, but my reality changed unexpectedly. At that time, I was a street educator specialised in preventing crime in so-called sensitive neighbourhoods and I got transferred to a new neighbourhood, to work with a new teacher, Sabine, who had just been put in charge of a class hosting young people who had just arrived in France.
Sabine : When I met Sabira, I perceived that it was not an ordinary encounter, I made the connection with my vow, especially since I perceived she was someone who sought a meaning to existence. I felt immediately that she was very attentive, I saw her ears open…
Sabira : I was very attentive to what Sabine was telling me because I found her attitude remarkable. I observed how she considered her students, her colleagues. She was radiant, she embodied a kindness that touched me and opened my heart. I remember telling myself, “I wish I was like that too.”
Sabine : The first time Sabira came to my house to discover the practice of Reiyukai, I felt that a cyclone was rushing into my life and that it was not going to be easy!
Sabira : The first time Sabine invited me to a meeting, I felt a powerful storm raising around me.
I saw that my coming to this meeting was setting other dimensions in motion. I was terrified. The state I was in only calmed down when I began to recite the sutra: I had the deep feeling of recognizing this teaching and I cried with gratitude.
Sabine : As soon as Sabira started practicing, many young people wanted to begin this path of awakening with her. Their extraordinary experiences, including repairing bonds with parents, made us perceive the power of the spiritual world in motion.
Sabira : When I began, I heard: “This path is done with others, it is not a personal transformation project. This practice invites us to grow the heart with all beings, with our ancestors and the people around us.” Carried by this energy and enthusiasm, I shared this teaching with many people, with the desire to verify what I had heard.
Sabine : During the autumn of 2005, we were undergoing tragic events in France. In a suburban Parisian city, the death of two young people of foreign origin running away from a police checkpoint, had raised riots. In France, in all hot suburbs, the youth shouted their anger.
Sabira : At that time, I had the opportunity to meet a Japanese practitioner who had developed a great consciousness. When she arrived in France, she perceived that this reality of war had its roots in the spiritual world. She saw the state of the ancestors in the spiritual world: they had fought for France, given their lives, and were very angry to observe that France had no consideration or recognition for their descendants. It was this anger that manifested itself in the violence of young people. I found it so extraordinary to have this clear vision of the connection between the spiritual world and the reality we were living.
Sabine : When Sabira heard this and her consciousness opened to the law of the conditioned chain of causes and effects, for my part, I saw all sorts of connections that confirmed my intuition that I probably didn’t meet Sabira by chance:
– I learnt that the place where I was working, called The Manoeuvre Field, used to be an army training camp where my two grandfathers, born several hundred kilometres away, spent 2 years of military service before taking part in World War II.
– I found myself working with young people of foreign origin, many of whom came from former French colonies.
– Several men in my family fought against the independence of Algeria under the French flag
– Sabira is from Algerian descent,
– and the area we lived in was at the heart of the battles when Catholics fought back the Arabic invaders.
Sabira : For my part, my family was deeply traumatized and marked by the Algerian war.
My mother’s father was murdered. My father suffered the humiliations of the settlers for whom he worked throughout his adolescence and, during the war, he was tortured by French soldiers. So my parents arrived in France in a state of deep suffering, especially my father, full of anger and bitter resentment.
Sabine : That state of war often manifested itself in our relationship. Concretely, when my heart was filled with hatred and anger towards Sabira, I checked several times and found that she was affected by it at a distance, either that she fell ill or that she was enduring at the same time violent events.
In this situation of suffering, my elders constantly brought me back to my initial wow: “You wished to meet Sabira to solve essential things, raise your awareness, clean your heart and your mind. Only if you commit yourselves together for the happiness of others, will you cleanse these resurgences of the past. Wish to progress with her! ». I had to constantly educate my mind to reposition the meaning of our relationship at that level.
Sabira: It was as difficult for me as for Sabine. I often heard: “Look at what puts you in these states”. While I was suffering from the same sorrows in this bond, I observed the same patterns that I had known with my parents. I also heard: “If you live this with Sabine, just as with your parents, it is because this reality has roots in you! Learn, watch, practice and transform yourself.”
This is what gave me the strength to recite the sutra and ask the spiritual world: “What can’t I see? What do I have to transform to free myself from relationships based on power?”
Sabine : I remember a special awareness on the occasion of a practice meeting: we were 9 women, from different origins and with different skin colours. I had the vision of the ancestral history of each one of us: stories marked by the oppression of colonisations, slavery, religions, men, parents.
Sabira : I remember that day as a wonderful moment because, beyond our cultural differences, our social origins, we all had the same inability to accept reality and to question ourselves.
Sabine : Every time Sabira and I really took refuge together in front of our altars, asking to be helped to realize the Teaching, we instantly felt a great joy…
Sabira : We witnessed all kinds of experiences beyond our understanding or our personal power: we observed changes among our fellow practitioners and, at the same time, among the young people we were working with.
Sabine : They came from many “hot spots” around the globe. The group was potentially explosive and tense. Many young people had experienced horrors, and were broken. Each time Sabira and I made the effort to question ourselves and to become determined again to transform ourselves, we could see this mind-set circulating: the conflicts were defused and gave way to a very pure, very joyful, very constructive atmosphere. We have seen young people repair themselves, make amazing progress, and gain confidence in their potential.
Sabira: More broadly, we saw this atmosphere of caring and consideration spread throughout the school and even the neighbourhood. Little by little, the head teacher and all the teachers were carried into an “educational sangha”, united around the same goal: the progress of the youth.
In August 2015, Sabine and I, and other members of our tradition, had the opportunity to deepen our spiritual research in Japan, where Reiyukai Buddhism was born, and especially in Mirokusan, which is a place dedicated to youth.
Sabine : From this journey, I came back with 2 treasures: in a place dedicated to the bodhisattva Maitreya, I experienced the opening of my senses and a quality of my heart which made me perceive which extraordinary dimensions of love and compassion a human being can be connected with, and I came back with a goal, which I heard from a very ancient Japanese practitioner : “It is important now to acquire a heart as pure as water, which hurts no one and is hurt by no one…”
Sabira: I came back with precious things too.
First, I heard that “during this journey we could experience stepping into the spiritual realm.” This sentence penetrated me: I verified that, indeed, 2 worlds existed and that, as soon as I solicited the spiritual world, I truly penetrated another dimension where I was helped, inspired and carried.
Secondly, I felt the importance of looking for ways to give young people access to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and I vowed to accompany them until their take off.
Sabira : Through the bodhisattva practice with my companions, I began to see the causes of this pattern of submission rooted in my family: women were submitted to their husbands, to their children, to their community. As I freed myself from these ways of functioning, my mother, who had suffered violence from her husband for 45 years, naturally became aware of the same pattern. She found the strength and courage to take her life in hand.
Sabine: When I realized how much Sabira and I were the same, instantly I could see my hard, demanding heart and lack of attention for my children. This is one of my strongest spiritual experiences: opening my heart as a mother for my eldest daughter. I really felt as if I met her for the first time. That day, everything was beautiful, bright and perfect and I thought it was wonderful.
Sabira : When I started to practice with many young people aged 15, 16, 17, some were taking drugs, others were out of school, unable to live in reality. Thanks to all their practice, they gradually became responsible young adults. I am happy to see how they build their lives wisely and engage with others with compassion.
In parallel, I learnt to respect my children, and the people around me. I’m learning to love them as they are. To respect their free will without judging them, without believing that I hold The Truth.
Sabine : Since we began to prepare our talk in Benalmàdena, several young people we have accompanied in the professional context together have come to us, reconnected with us and have told us about their journey. They are now socially integrated and extremely grateful.
What an encouraging journey!
Let us wish that as many young people as possible have access to the teachings of Buddhism and create beautiful relationships of spiritual friendship. May they change their destiny and, in their turn, spread “wisdom and compassion” within their families and society.