Reiyukai is the Buddhism of Spiritual Friendship. We are thus encouraged to develop relationships tinged with spiritual friendship not only with our companions but also with the people around us. Yet what is specific about spiritual friendship?
It seems to me that the relationship with Pierre-Arthur, my first companion, illustrates this subject. When we were both in preparatory class, I invited people I wanted to be in contact with for New Year’s Eve, and I met him on that occasion. I was somewhat afraid of Pierre-Arthur’s personality, his energy and his strong views. He was not the kind of person I would have spontaneously been attracted to. Yet, on that occasion, I discovered how enthusiastic he was and that he had many qualities. When I realized our discussions did not lead anywhere and left me at a loss about what to do, I invited him to discover the Reiyukai practice. Later on, when we were at the Engineering School, our classmates were surprised to hear we were friends. They found it impossible and unbelievable. They would tell me: « You are so different, you don’t behave and express yourselves the same way at all».
I have recently verified our link goes far beyond this. Pierre-Arthur spent a year in Japan where he had some extraordinary practice experiences. He became conscious of the links with his family, of the importance of gratitude in all the relationships he had …So when he came back to France, he was supposed to express himself during the latest quarterly meeting in Paris, which made him really happy. But a few days before, he realized that his training course in St Nazaire was to start before this meeting so that it would be impossible for him to attend it. And yet, he had received all this information three months before. So there was no way he was going to speak. When Pierre-Arthur told me about this, I immediately saw how similar we were. I remembered I had had the same sort of experiences. It enabled me not to panic or judge him but to tell myself: « Well, I recognize this as an aspect of myself, which really makes it the subject of my practice ». So I told him: « I really feel I am like you. I have had the same sort of experiences ».When we talked about it he expressed he felt so guilty that he was thinking of catching a high speed train on that Friday to try and be on time for the meeting even if he knew he would not make it. I encouraged him not to react in an ordinary way but to start developing new capacities.
I think I would not have reacted that way before. Actually it is simple and easy. My consideration for him has changed: he told me about his problem, I acknowledged it was something I had to progress on and I felt like seeking how we could do it together.
Our aim: progressing together.
Actually, for me, developing spiritual friendship comes to that: when two people agree on choosing the subject of their mutual progress for their lives, they create a very concrete link. So when facing such or such event, instead of reacting by saying: « Well no, it is not cool, it is not what I had expected » or « Great! It’s awesome! », we can welcome this event as the topic of our progress and improve together. This is the way I try to behave with all the people around me. I consider the others’ progress as well as mine. One can’t choose the people with whom one develops spiritual friendship just as one can’t choose one’s elder or the people attending a meeting or a seminar. It is a beautiful quality I encourage everyone to develop.