Realizing one’s determination to progress

en avant
The five basic practice actions
29 October 2019
Opening up to others
11 February 2020

The starting point of my research this year has been the strong determination expressed by some Reiyukai members during a training session to realize the founders’ goal within practice relationships. Pessimistic by nature, I immediately thought “You are not that determined, you are not committed to bringing about your companions’ happiness.” Yet I stood up and expressed my wish to make this weak and irresolute mind of mine evolve. Then I recited the Meditation on Bodhisattva Universal Virtue Sutra for ten months. I secretly hoped for a miraculous result thanks to this action, in vain, but my expectations may have been too specific.
In parallel, one of my companions told me about the difficulties she was experiencing in her life, mainly at work where she felt harassed, discredited and slandered. Busy as I was with my own goal, I answered her “Well, you only need to reform yourself” and deep down inside, I considered that if things did not change in her life it was because she was refusing to apply the Teachings. Yet, I could not get to feel concerned by what she was living. When her situation got worse, I felt compelled to ask questions to my elder who encouraged me to find how to help my companion thanks to the Teachings. There again I was convinced I could not do anything for her but I went to her place to recite the Sutra all the same. In front of her altar, I asked to be able to feel sincerely concerned by her living conditions and I apologized for being such a poorly committed elder. The events then took an unexpected turn…

Reforming the link to my companion

I was summoned to appear in court in front of an insurance expert, because of a hidden defect during the sale of a property. I was ordered to pay a hefty compensation in a quite aggressive and pressing way. Stunned, I opened up to an elder who confided he was going through a similar situation, and that our determination to enter the world of the Teachings was probably put to the test by this type of circumstances. Conversely, the link with my companion who was being harassed appeared to me somewhat more precisely. In the light of these two leads, I relied on the Teachings, as much as I could, in front of the guardian spirit of our practice circle and I apologized for generating such a situation of conflict. But these excuses must have been more formal than sincere as, a few days later, anger along with a feeling of injustice were back. A confrontation with the complainants was organized and even with “a Buddha on each shoulder”, I went there fretful and angry. Yet, upon entering the premises, and the first words exchanged with the complainants, my negligence, my indifference and even my greed appeared to me quite clearly and all my anger, resentment and feeling of injustice suddenly melted away. Thanks to this awareness, I realized that my attitude was the same in every aspect of my life, with my companions indeed, but also with my family, my circle of friends, my colleagues…Therefore I deeply and silently apologized and I offered my interlocutors to make up for my mistakes. I went out relieved and freed from that burden and conscious that I had to change. Hardly had I time to get home that my companion rang at my door to tell me that lately, she had read the sutra more regularly and that she had just been offered an unexpected professional opportunity. She also wished to show her respect to the guardian spirit of the practice circle as she could feel that the correction of her mind sprang from the Teachings. I was surprised to witness the growth of such a spirit of gratitude in her.

The rise of a new consideration for my family

Some time later, my girlfriend and I decided to get married. It all went so fast and a close date was chosen. This haste probably hid a poorly commendable reason: in my family the links were severed between my father and my mother and the links with my sister were not really easy. By speeding up the process, I hoped no one would bother coming and so no conflict would arise on D-day. Yet, my whole family announced their arrival. From that time onwards, my future wife and I began a practice of acceptance, of consideration and flexibility with one another and towards our respective families. Many unexpected twists put our determination to the test. In the end, the wedding day went by in an extraordinary way. Since the age of ten, I had not seen my parents together. But that day they were wonderful, open-minded, careful and patient bodhisattvas concerned with the others’ happiness. Far from apprehension and withdrawal, my heart was filled with gratitude for my ancestors and for the Teachings.
Shortly after that event I went to visit my companion in order to recite the Sutra with her and on arriving, I was surprised to see that her whole family had come to help her harvest the small vineyard she owned. Her daughter, with whom relationships were usually explosive and thorny had prepared dinner and accommodation for everyone. Once again I marvelled at the fact that the mind of someone who recites the Sutra for her own progress, for her ancestors’ and for those linked with her could bring out such changes within a family.
Kimi Kotani, Reiyukai co-founder, wrote in her diary Ten no Ongaku- The Life of Kimi Kotani that nothing was more powerful than a family whose members recited The Lotus Sutra and that harmony was bound to prevail in its bosom.
As for me, I can see how important it is to express a determination in front of the Assembly and that it is essential to begin reforming oneself in order to realize that determination.