Is Reiyukai a sect? Judge by yourself…

Is Reiyukai a sectarian movement? Judge by yourself…

Reiyukai has existed in France under the 1901 Associations Law since 1979. No complaint has been laid against it since its creation.

In 1995 a parliamentary report sought to give a definition of what a sect was by producing about ten criteria and then listed 173 groups said to be sectarian without clarifying the reasons why they were concerned. Reiyukai was listed among them.

In 1999 another parliamentary report about «sects and money», which was one of the key criteria of 1995, did not mention Reiyukai at all. The name of the association will not appear in the following reports either. In 2002 the Inter-ministerial Monitoring Mission against Sectarian Abuses (MIVILUDES in French) was created as a tool to observe, to prevent and to repress sectarian movements. MIVILUDES has been asked several times about Reiyukai and answered:«Reiyukai has never been the object of any accusations of sectarian abuses».

Decree n° PRMX 0508471C issued May 27 2005 by the Prime Minister (decree) dealing with the prevention of sectarian abuses withdrew the 1995 list, which, by the way had been highly criticized since its publication, in favour of «a range of criteria» to identify constantly evolving movements.

Reiyukai France has been a member of the European Buddhist Union (EBU) since 1997. Mrs Claudine Shinoda, who is Reiyukai’s spiritual adviser in France was the EBU’s president for 3 years and its vice-president for 6 years. As such, she actively took part in international buddhist congresses and expressed herself in front of various international bodies.
• For the UN in Bangkok in May 2007: speech on Buddhism and good governance.
• At the UNESCO in Paris in October 2008: Presentation of European Buddhism
• at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2008:speech on women’s situation in Reiyukai’s buddhism during the symposium on women’s situation in Buddhism : http://ehennicotschoepges.lu/2008/12/a119

More recently, in April 2017 at the EBU international conference in Berlin, Reiyukai presented its vision of the way to improve society on the following them: «Family, the crucible to establish Buddhist values in society and in the world».

Reiyukai-France is financed by a €6.50 monthly subscription; donations are not accepted (see charter).

In Japan, Reiyukai is a state-approved congregation, registered by the Education Board. Her co-founder, Mrs Kotani is well-known for involving Reiyukai in numerous humanitarian actions, particularly in collaboration with the Red Cross. Reiyukai inspires consideration and respect within the Japanese institutions as it is well-known for its actions in education and in social well-being.

In France, Reiyukai invites every member to act positively in their lives to improve society. You are invited to discover their experiences on our blog.

Accompanying dead people is not a practice limited to Reiyukai. This tradition is common to many cultures. For Buddhist people in particular, death is not the end. Life, death and rebirths represent a part of the wide process of evolution and ideally, of the path towards Awakening. The Buddhist tradition considers that the passage between life and death, as well as the days following death, represent a privileged moment which can enable people to open themselves to the essential nature of the mind and to self-knowledge. It insists on the importance of the 49 days following death. During this transitory period, thanks to the quality of heart and mind of the people who accompany them, the dead will greatly benefit from the recitation of the sutras accomplished for them and they will be nourished with the teachings about the path towards Awakening, about the true nature of reality and about the path towards wisdom and compassion.

Reiyukai invites to develop gratitude and encouragement and to offer all human beings the Dharma, in particular, to the people at the origin of one’s life. It is a source of benefits whose effects can concretely be revealed in reality. The link uniting us to our family does not disappear after death. In this regard, accompanying a dead person’s spirit in this new experience represents a crucial step and enables us to express our gratitude.  A posthumous name dedicated to its spiritual life is written and the sutra is recited for 49 days with the deep wish for its progress, soothing and happiness. The Reiyukai members who do accomplish this practice, very often feel the reality of this link: there are numerous experiences which testify to this and open up people’s consciousness to the dimensions of a world which, even if it is invisible, does none the less exist.

Kimi Kotani, Reiyukai’s founder used to say:’You can change your fate thanks to Reiyukai.”
What is fate? There is no taking the meaning of fate as some determinism that would mean that whatever one does, everything has already been decided in one’s lives.
When the founder expresses that “one can change one’s fate, open up one’s fate”, she means all human beings have the capacity to change the reality of their lives. Why do we live such a life? The reasons are different for everyone but our present reality of life is deeply linked to what we have inherited from our ancestors and to the actions we have accomplished since our birth, sometimes without any consciousness. Such is the definition of the word karma. Our conditions of existence do not happen by chance: there are always causes. Only our actions can change our fate, i.e. our life.
Life is strewn with obstacles. It often never works the way we would like it to, so that we end up suffering. We must not be content with such a life since human beings have a potential that enables them to create really satisfying conditions of life. Thanks to the Teachings, we learn how to change our lives and our reality by taking action. Such is our field of practice. Only our reality perfectly reflects our condition. Reality is more important than thought: can someone who is able to think well, because they are intelligent, change their reality?
In order to discover who we really are, we only need to consider our lives: it reflects our quality as human beings. Becoming an enlightened human being is not an abstraction: it must show thanks to a different life. In order to achieve that, we accomplish the actions of practice, carry out the Teachings and develop qualities we did not possess before. Mahayana Buddhism mentions six important qualities, called ‘perfections’ we must acquire to their utmost degree, in order to become enlightened: generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, serenity and wisdom. The Buddha’s wisdom is the only one that can enable us to change our lives. Reiyukai invites us to acquire this great wisdom as well as the five other qualities mentioned. Let us not be like the ape evoked in the Lotus Sutra endlessly looking for which quality we possess. It is like looking for the qualities a tulip will develop in one of its seeds. That is not just possible. That seed will only give birth to a flower under some circumstances: it must receive water in sufficient quantity, benefit from adapted temperature… It is a creation.
In Reiyukai, the essential condition to create our life, to change our fate and to realize a wonderful existence is to pass on the Teachings to others and to act with them.

The legal status of Reiyukai France is that of a 1901-non-profit association.

The subscription paid by all Reiyukai members corresponds to their membership.

Every member pays €6.50 a month. Reiyukai has made the choice of a monthly payment (contrary to most associations which require a yearly subscription). Each month, members are therefore invited to renew their commitment to follow this way towards transformation. Everyone is free to pay or not this subscription, to go on or not on this “path of spiritual friendship”. The subscription is paid to Reiyukai France.

What is the monthly subscription used for?
It covers the expenses necessary to ensure:
• The running of the Reiyukai Center in Nantes.
• The salaries (Secretary Department- Communication and catering Department- Maintenance Department).
• Renting the Regional meeting places.
• Publishing (Sutras and The Buddha’s World, our magazine)
Let us point out that donations are strictly forbidden.

A religion? Reiyukai is not a religious practice. There is no belief in a God. No monk, no nun, no ceremony. If Reiyukai members read sutras aloud in front of their family altar, they are none the less not addressing a prayer. The altar symbolizes the link that unites them to the former generations and the gratitude they wish to develop towards their ancestors. Sutras testify to the path taken by Buddha, a path that -according to him- each human being is able to follow. Consequently, reading a sutra makes it possible to hear a teaching which, when carried out every day among relationships, helps a proper awareness of reality emerge as well as a benevolent heart towards each and every one.

A philosophy? The Greek etymology of that term, philos, friend and sophia, wisdom, means “friend of wisdom”. If one considers the goal is to reach some kind of wisdom, then Reiyukai is akin to philosophy. Yet, the specificity of Reiyukai is that it suggests its members should put the teachings to the test in real life. Only in action, in our everyday life and among links do distortions appear between what we think we are and what we really are. Only then does real work start which involves very concrete transformations testifying to the wisdom acquired progressively. Thus, reasoning is not solicited but action tinged with the wish to evolve so as to transform our reality.

A humanism? Human beings are really fortunate to be endowed with a conscience. That is why one can evolve, reform oneself. Improving, creating new qualities of consciousness and heart, taking part in the making of peace in the world, such are the goals of Reiyukai members. Yet Buddhism invites people to humility : the universe does not revolve around them, they are only one of its constituents, one of its links. They have their roles to play i.e. to awaken their conscience and hearts to everything that surrounds them and thus to take part in the making of peace in the world.

It is linked to the very story of Buddhism. In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha addressed lay people: he entrusted them with the role in passing on his teachings after his death. That is why Kakutaro Kubo found it right to create  Reiyukai, a movement only composed of lay members. Progress in education made it possible for lay people to read the sutras by themselves. Besides, in the Sutra of Meditation on Bodhisattva Universal Virtue one can read there is no need to “cut oneself off from the five desires”. There is thus no need to commit oneself to monastic life. Lay people can realize in their familial, in their social and professional lives the true meaning of Buddha’s Teachings and therefore have a positive influence on their surroundings. How wonderful existence can become when one chooses to put one’s progress as well as the others’ at the very heart of one’s life!

Originally, the word sutra refers to a thread similar to the one used to gather the beads of a necklace. After Buddha’s death (about 480 BC) and probably when he was still alive, his disciples tried to gather his teachings in an order that would make their memorizing easy. They classified them, not in chronological order but in groups of similar length or contents. By doing so, they hoped to make the memorizing of his sermons easy to pass his message on to the future generations.


Extracted from The Eye of the Sutra by Horace B.Montgomery Jr

In chapter 3 of the Innumerable Meanings Sutra, one can read about the four virtues and the six perfections.


The first two virtues are benevolent love (maitri) and compassion (karuna).The phrase ‘it shall make one who is fond of killing direct his mind towards great compassion’ means one will develop benevolence towards those one feels animosity against. One will also try to help them and relieve their sufferings.Following the example of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future, whose name is drawn from the same root maitri, Reiyukai members endeavour to pass on to others the keys that will enable them to free themselves from their sufferings and have access to happiness.


We often neglect mudita, the third virtue generated by the Sutra. It consists in fully rejoicing at the others’ success.How often do we say:’Congratulations on your promotion’ when we actually mean: ‘Why didn’t I get that promotion?’. Rejoicing fully at others’ happiness, without the merest hint of jealousy, is unfortunately far too rare. We can only feel that way, provided we have freed ourselves from selfishness.


This leads us to the fourth virtue: equanimity. The sutra invites us to be able to ‘renounce’, which is an essential element. We will never be able to have access to that state as long as we remain tied to our attachments and desires. We will never manage to be impartial and fair as long as we are concerned by ourselves first and by the others next.


Buddhism names these four virtues – benevolent love, compassion, empathic joy and equanimity- the four infinite virtues. The one who develops them is assured to be reborn in the highest paradise of all and never to return to the mortal condition. One already lives in Brahma’s world: such is one’s true dwelling.That is the reason why these virtues are sometimes called Brahma’s virtues or celestial virtues.

The sutra expounds then the bodhisattva’s path through the practice of the six perfections.The first one is giving, generosity (dana in Sanskrit), discipline, the second perfection, implies humility and the respect of laws, without arrogantly considering oneself ‘above the law’. The practitioner is exhorted then to replace anger with patience, and laziness with perseverance. It also invites us to calm down our troubled mind thanks to serenity and to replace ignorance with wisdom.

Such are the six perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, serenity and wisdom. Let us point out that the sutra encourages us to cultivate these perfections and the four infinite virtues that come before as well as the others that follow.There is not a single ‘Thou shall not…’ in the list. It mentions what we are invited to do and what we must not do.