I became a Reiyukai member when I was eighteen thanks to Claudette who was my French teacher at school. When I got older, I met her again after resuming my studies. She suggested I came to see her. At that time I was sharing a flat with two friends. That same evening as I was writing her a long letter to describe my mood and feelings and what I was going through, I quarrelled with one of my roommates so violently that I decided to move back to my parents’. That was my first practice experience.
What attracted me in the Teachings, was that we could do something for the departed members of our families. This moved me a lot. I rapidly got involved in the Youth Group. I created my practice family. I met Eric, my friend, my practice companion, my husband, the father of my children. We had a beautiful life together, bought a house with a huge garden, which was representative of my job as I train young landscape gardeners. All these years, I think I have progressed a lot without being quite aware of it.
The link to our ancestors: a most precious link
At the end of the first meeting I attended, when I came back home, I told my parents that I would recite the sutra every day. And this is what I did for the past thirty-five years. I take care of the ancestors’ altar in my home. There are always flowers on it. I sometimes put offerings like small food trays with the idea that, wherever they are, my ancestors will never be needy. Every day with humility and respect I express the wish to be able to develop thankfulness for my ancestors, the wish they progress as well as my companions, our practice Circle, the members of my family, my workmates and my pupils.
My consciousness has evolved. I clearly see that the state of my life really depends on the spiritual world and on the link with my ancestors. If one morning I wake up, filled with feelings such as sadness, anger or joy I am aware that I am not alone in my own world and I have a connection with all these earthly and invisible links. In front of my altar I express my regret to be in these moods such as emotional expectations, anxiety, fears and so on…I am conscious that my ancestors feel the same too wherever they are. I keep two pictures in mind: the first one dates back to Japan when I was 25. I can picture myself on a mountain, my ancestors are in the valley and they can hear the sutra thanks to me. The second one is the image of my ancestors waiting for me to recite the sutra every morning in front of my altar. I know that it is not that serious if we don’t recite the sutra because resentment does not exist in the spiritual world. Our ancestors will always be there. So in the morning I sometimes hurry because they are waiting for me.
Every day, in front of my altar I have the feeling that I am opening the doors to a large assembly: I can imagine all the Buddhas, the Awakened and my ancestors. They are a part of the assembly as well as me. I read the sutra for them as much as for me. During the reading a lot of things come to my mind and I sometimes feel the presence of my husband, my children’s father, who died five years ago. I express how thankful and grateful I am to him. Thanks to our family home and to all the things he created in the garden, we were able to welcome two hundred people last summer for the seminar of the Soulard Branch.
Cultivating the link to the companions and to the Teachings
I have wondered about what makes me happy. I think it is when I am with others and I accomplish my bodhisattva’s practice. I quite well know the moods in which we get trapped and which are made of unsatisfactory expectations and complaints. But since the beginning of this year, I have been determined to change. Some companions have told me I have already changed a lot. I think one must never stop. We are not the ones who decide of our lives and our close acquaintances’ and all this is meaningful.
I recite the Lotus Sutra every day as well as chapter 25 of the Threefold Lotus Sutra and I ask to be protected and safeguarded. I am aware that, when I am connected to the Awakened, I create a link with them and I am under their protection. I really wish to become like them. We are responsible for making these links alive. I also have this intention for my children and the members of our Circle. I am proud of what they are becoming. I am now aware that thanks to them I am enabled « to »: to write Dharma names for example. I get a close look at my companions’ behaviour, I make every effort to respect them and not to judge them, I try not to get annoyed by their attitudes which I know very well as they have negative effects. All we need to do is to develop a link with the Teachings. I think I was born to do so. I have Iost much time in emotional expectations, such as anger when Eric died. This year thanks to Claudette, my elder I have taken on an active role and responsibility in the French Reiyukai for which I am happy.