Here, Armelle expresses her experience of the path to be followed to become a Circle leader.
Armelle, do you think you fit in the description which is made of a Circle leader ?
Absolutely! I can recognize qualities I had to develop that I didn’t have when I became a Circle leader except for determination!
Actually I had very precise ideas about what my companions should be and what they should do. I had lots of expectations and I got worked up when they did not live up to them. Their resistance and their opinions which were sometimes harsh clearly showed me I was on the wrong track. One of my companions in particular, a Family leader helped me see through it. I would put a heavy pressure on her to make her correct her state of mind and accompany her companions better. The result was that she simply stopped practising because of my behaviour among other things. I started to see that such an attitude was cutting me off from other people. Who would like to have a relationship with such a harpy?
As I was determined to change, I turned to my elders and started a hard practice in order to reform my behaviour and change my heart for that companion (She had decided to keep the link through the monthly fee), all the more as we were working together. I sincerely wished to polish my heart and stop breeding that resentment so as to create benevolence and encouragement. And here lies the happiness of practising because with such a particular state of mind treasures of wisdom made their way inside me: my heart opened up, I became able to have a very warm-hearted and light relationship with that companion without any expectations. I was even invited to her wedding! I also realized how much alike we were, more preoccupied by the membership fees and the fact that everything went well than by what my precious companions were living or feeling. Well I was also self-centred… This turned out to be a path made of humanity and openness to others which benefited my ego and progress.
Which qualities did you develop then?
A new consciousness and respect for others emerged from this research: the consciousness that not everybody progresses in the same way and should not be nourished in the same way: respect for everyone’s rhythm. I regretted my intolerance, my harshness, and my judgements. I really wished – and asked – to create new capacities of tolerance, patience, kindness so as to favour harmony around me. In difficult situations, I chose to turn to the Teaching instead of remaining within my conditionings. I gained a more understanding look on everyone’s limits.
What do you concretely do?
I sincerely wish to contribute to my companions’ Awakening and happiness in relation with my elders and the World of Enlightenment. I aspire to be guided in my actions and my encouragement to help them walk further or to reassure them when it is difficult or when they are full of doubt. I have adopted a regular discipline: daily readings of the sutras have opened up room for the Teaching and the world of Enlightenment in me. Apart from these moments I find myself asking questions to the Spiritual World about such or such companion. I always act by asking to be guided by the world of Enlightenment. I nourish my research by making room for the Teaching in my mind and my heart. Every day I ask to progress, to awaken, to open up to others, to contribute to my companions ‘ happiness and Awakening thanks to my link to the Teaching. I am regularly in touch with my elders whom I question so as to hear better and have a larger perspective nourished with the spirit of the Teaching. This short-circuits ordinary thoughts and emotions. Then I can see really well that what my mouth expresses is anything but ordinary. What comes from me is great peace, encouragement without any expectations, a word to make such companion’s state of mind lighter. I can but feel I am like them but I have had the experience so that I can guide them. I keep passing on what I do and how it changes my inner states as well as my reality…
And I notice that my companions contact me more often. The great tenderness which exists between us comforts them, they can hear the Teachings better. For example one of my companions had had a difficult childhood, just like me. It is a real suffering for him and his family relationships are complicated. Up to now it had been impossible for him to hear what his elders told him. Little by little, the people around him began to experience a different listening quality and my companion was even able to hear encouragement from his practice brothers and sisters. I myself felt more concerned in the way I was guiding him and really and sincerely made myself available for him. The last time we were in touch, what I transmitted was different: I told him about my personal experience, about the way I lived things and how I moved forward with this reality. Shortly after I heard from his elder that he had felt encouraged and that he wanted to act, whereas before, he had often felt lost or angry after exchanging even when he seemed to agree.
Would you say that you show the same consideration for every companion?
I am currently trying to find how to guide my companions, be they supporters or Family leaders. Even if I wish for their progress and happiness in the same way, I know that each companion cannot be nourished the same way. With my companions who have welcomed a dozen companions, we are engaged in a real team « work », together we try to find how to help, to feel concerned and reform our behaviour, solve our karmic hindrance and change. Our conversations and exchanges strengthen our spiritual friendship. Month after month, year after year I can see how much tenderness and benevolence I have developed without any expectations, confident in the fact that everyone will make their way in their own rhythm. At the moment my research is based on the wish that my companions who are Family leaders become Circle leaders and that all the companions of the Circle will adopt the subject of changing through reforming themselves for their progress, their ancestors’ and the one of the people around them .
How marvellous the process of burning off our karmic hindrance and setting ourselves free from them is!