Guillaume Bloch, Marie Kalfon, Armand Huet and Marie Berthelot are four young practitioners of Reiyukai Buddhism in France. They explain how practising Buddhism and applying Buddhist teachings transforms their lives
“I discovered the practice with a friend of mine, Barbara. As I was looking for a meditation group, I joined her for her Sutra recitation.
I felt the benefit of this recitation physically; it pleased me.
At that time, reciting it every day allowed me to build a new life in my home.
Beyond recitation, through discussion with young people, I realised that we are all experiencing difficult situations. At one
meeting, I heard a 17-year-old member say: “I want to build my life with the teachings of Reiyukai Buddhism, no longer through the expectations and judgements of my classmates towards me, and more broadly according to the people around me.” I was particularly impressed that a person so young could show such humility. His experience reflected the daily reality of many young participants at the meetings, triggering many shared questions as well as moments of friendship.
By connecting with the teaching of Reiyukai, we understood that we all bear family karmas that carry us away into emotional states. There are ways to gradually create distance from these states, such as reciting the Sutra or sharing our experiences.
In this way, I am progressively creating a different consciousness, through these bonds of spiritual friendship between us.
For example, once when I arrived at a meeting, I was devastated inside. A practitioner welcomed me and said: “You must not bear this state alone, come and pay homage to the family altar with the sangha.” Then we exchanged on an ongoing situation in my family: my sister had agreed to external healing help. I realised that I was devastated because I was afraid that she would not be well cared for and that the situation would get out of hand. Then I was able to hear that I, too, have a long way to go. Just like my sister, I must accept the help of others, and stop trying to “save” other people but rather respect their choices.
After this, my heightened emotional state subsided. I was able to participate in the end of the meeting with joy.”
“Reiyukai Buddhism encourages us to develop relationships of spiritual friendship with people around us, and especially with those whom have chosen to practice with us. Our relationships with people are often driven by our expectations and interests. Building a relationship of spiritual friendship is to place common progress in Buddhist teachings at the centre of the relationship. Here is how I tried to develop this kind of a mutual progressive relationship with one of my friends:
This friend of mine had gone to Japan to study for a semester. During my holidays, I had the opportunity to visit him in Tokyo, as he established himself in the city. I was surprised to see how much my friend’s mind was entirely taken up by the management of his daily life and his difficulty adapting to the culture, which left little room for our relationship and our common Buddhist research.
When I returned to France, I was disappointed about this encounter and worried about my friend’s mindset. My elders encouraged me to develop compassion towards him and build my life in order to develop an awareness of these conditions. When my girlfriend, whom also practices with me, took a new job, I saw the same spirit of management and control rise up in her, and I made the connection with my own spirit in my search for a job. This experience allowed me to become aware of this tendency we all shared and not let myself be led by it. It also allowed me to develop a softer and more understanding heart towards my friend in Japan, who contacted me a month later to express that he had become aware of his own imprisonment, and to apologise.
These bonds of research and spiritual friendship allow us to progress together in our practices, without being based on our conceptions.”
“When I was a child, I made choices for my life and my education according to my parents’ expectations, and to please others around me. It didn’t make me happy and I felt that I had to change many things, in order to build my own life.
I met the Reiyukai at the age of 27, at a very difficult point in my life.
I heard I could recite the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma with the desire to develop gratitude for my ancestors and for those beings around me, and I gradually felt closer to them. Then I accepted my parents as they were, and this change in me even made them want to practice with me.
Practicing with other young people allowed me to mutually develop and taste the kindness and listening between us. This created confidence and I tried new ways that I didn’t dare fathom before; for example, in my job. I began to learn how to ask for help when problems arose, instead of staying alone and indulging in avoidance behaviour.
One can change at any age, but I can say that it was a stroke of fortune to meet these teachings at a young age. This is what motivated me to take on a role in developing the practice among young people.”
It has been three years since I discovered the Reiyukai Buddha’s teachings, and thanks to my practice, I have been able to transform many of my life circumstances, even difficult ones.
Before, I used to be of a solitary and withdrawn nature, which often prevented me from creating relationships with others, especially with young people.
Today, I see that my life is taking a completely different direction. For example, as part of the organisation of the first youth weekend, I agreed to call a list of young people to invite them to attend the seminar. But I typically hate doing this, because talking on the phone makes me feel very anxious. I recited the Sutra to change my mind, overcome my fear, and I finally managed to call everyone. I then felt a feeling of satisfaction.
Since then, I have started a job as a secretary and it doesn’t bother me anymore to have to make phone calls.
As I gradually progressed on my path of practice, I saw that I was changing. I finally became part of the youth group’s core: seven young people who did not know each other, determined to work together every day for a common cause – to build a team for bettering the lives of young people in France, based on Buddha’s teachings. With the young practitioners, I am developing a solid link that enables us to help each other and progress together. It allows us to create a spiritual friendship.
I feel moved as I write these lines, because I think back to who I was three years ago, or rather, the illusion I had of my life at that time. I now see myself full of enthusiasm for being connected with other young people, while I used to think that my happiness lay in solitude. It makes me feel intense joy.