The Buddha showed me the Way when I was lost – Spiritual journey in the UK #3

Mr Tony Brosse

This Dharma Journey talk was presented at the London Buddhist Centre on 8 April 2023, during the Flower Festival (Anniversary of the birth of Shakyamuni).


Mr Tony Brosse

Hello, everyone. I am grateful to share my spiritual journey on the day of the birth of Shakyamuni. My name is Tony Brosse, and I was born in France on 30 June 1988. I have a big brother and two little half-brothers.

I have experienced several changes in my life, starting with the divorce of my parents when I was only 4. My parents ran a delicatessen shop together for about four years until some financial issues arose. By that time, my mum was having an affair with one of their employees and had a child with him. I was very young, so I do not remember many arguments between my parents. I remember that my mum, brother and I moved out of the flat we were living in and moved in with my stepdad. We were still seeing our father over the weekends and school holidays. One day, my mum told me I could call my stepdad “dad”. I repeated it to my dad, who got angry and slapped me, saying that he was the only one I should call dad. I felt some sadness for my dad but mostly some anger towards my mum. It was the only slap I had from my dad in my life. I believe that it was one of the reasons that I did not get very close to my stepdad, as I felt I needed to take some distance from him so I would not disappoint him.

When I was 7, we moved out of my hometown with my mum, stepdad and brothers to live in a village a few kilometres away. It was another significant change as I needed to adapt to a new place, school and friends. My dad was also moving out of my hometown and found a partner about the same time. At a young age, I went to my grandparents’ house with my big brother during summertime, and I have a perfect memory of these summer holidays. I remember cooking and dancing with my grandmothers, and going on the tractor and seeing the animals with my grandfathers. From an early age, I can say that my dad has influenced me. He always cared about my brother and me by cooking for us, teaching us to swim, cycle and paddle, and supporting our life choices emotionally and physically. On the other hand, I was looking at how my stepdad acted towards my mum, brothers and myself. He was trying his best, but I could see more physical violence, such as slaps towards my brothers and less compassion/open-mindedness compared to my dad. On the other hand, my mum was caring and spent most of her time with us. As I grew older, I asked myself how it was possible that my mum left my dad for my stepdad, as they had totally different characters. My mum is open-minded, calm and caring, but my stepdad can be self-centred, jealous and moody. Because of his behaviour, I always felt distant toward him and not really at home. My time with my dad was sometimes a release as I did not have the pressure from my stepdad asking to clean my room, asking too many questions (multiple times) or criticising my mother, brother or myself. I felt like I was monitored by my stepdad and felt free with my dad.

I might sound a bit harsh towards my stepdad, but he was not all bad. He could show some interest and care, but compared to my dad, he was far from being a model to me. My dad had difficulties showing his emotions, but I know that he loved and cared for us. One day, he confessed to me that the divorce was a challenging moment for him, and if it were not for my brother, my grandparents and me, he would have killed himself. I felt lots of sadness and compassion at these words, and the resentment towards my mum resurged. I also talked with my mum and big brother, and she shared her side of the story. She said she mostly looked forward to having kids and putting all her energy towards us. Even though she had some feelings for my dad and then my stepdad, she was and is still primarily focusing on her role as a mother. I felt sad for her but also proud as she was putting her life second.

Talking about my mother, she was the one who first introduced me to religion. When I was about seven years old, coming from a Christian tradition, my mum sent me to do my catechism (Christian lessons every Wednesday and mass on Sundays for four years). It felt a bit abstract and forced as a young boy, but I met lovely friends and learned good values. Moreover, it was a way to connect with my mum’s tradition, as my grandmother was quite religious. My dad would approve of it, but I did not feel much pressure from his side.

Even though I found some good values in Christianity, as I grew older, there were some parts of it where I did not recognise myself. I felt that it was imposed on me as a young child, and I think that each person should decide on their religious path. Furthermore, I felt that there was too much emphasis on sins and traditional views, which made me feel trapped, especially when I did my coming out, as we have been taught that it was a sin to be gay. Moreover, there were other “rules” and “practices” that I found impossible to follow, and then I went to church less and less (except to visit some). Thankfully, along my spiritual path, I met my friend Orianne in high school, who offered me a book about meditation for my birthday. I think it was a sign sent by the Buddha as I found an interest in meditation and started reading books by the Dalai Lama. It opened my eyes, and I recognised myself in the teachings of the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist monks, such as Matthieu Ricard and Thich Nhât Hanh. I felt an openness and freedom I did not feel when I was part of the Christian community. It helped me give another point of view about happiness and a way of living. The texts made sense to me, were more down-to-earth and responded to current human relations and ways of living.

As I was reading about Buddhism, I remember a time when I was with my dad and gave some money to homeless people. I felt some chill in my body as I gave the money. I sensed some joy in doing this, and my dad was happy. From then on, I felt I needed to support others, so I decided to work for humanitarian associations and help people dealing with hunger and other issues. After high school, I volunteered in Morocco by teaching French to young children for two summers in a row, and I felt very good about giving them some of my time and knowledge. I also had two internships (for my logistics management degree) in charities in France, where I had to support the volunteers in organising the warehouse and providing food and clothes to needy people. I was still meditating every night during my second internship, and I felt that the Buddha was giving me strength and showing compassion and that loving others was a way of liberation. I had a good experience from these internships and decided to work in logistics for international humanitarian associations. Unfortunately, I was not accepted into the school for the bachelor’s degree in Import-Export, which would have helped me to work in this field.

I was devasted and decided to go to London to improve my English and retry to get into that school later. However, my life in London changed me a bit, and I met my ex-partner, who changed my plans. After two years in London, I moved back to France as I was not feeling good professionally, but I felt lost as I did not know where to work or what to study. I stayed in my hometown for a while with my family while figuring out my situation. I found a part-time job in Paris as a waiter in a Japanese restaurant. It was an exciting experience but not my dream job. I then decided to enter nursing school to help people, but after reflection, I thought it might not be a job for me. I was lost again, but I then decided to study for a Bachelor of English and French as a second language. I wanted to return to England to teach French in schools, as I had a great experience in Morocco. I lived with my great aunt, whose daughter was interested in Buddhism, close to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. After reflection, I think it was once again a sign from the Buddha. I went to the temple a couple of times during the Tibetan festival and had the chance to attend Buddhist lectures from monks.

After completing my bachelor’s, I returned to London as a French teacher assistant in a secondary school. I followed my path in the teaching field and taught French in a secondary school in East London. It was a challenging year for me as I was having panic attacks due to poor behaviour from the students. My family and friends were supportive during that moment, but one day, one of my students started crying in front of me and telling me she could not study properly due to the poor behaviour in the classroom; it was too much for me, and I left this school. I felt lost again in my professional life and was unsure what to do. At that time, I wanted to do a job that could help people or the environment. I looked around and found a company with green-friendly values and started working for Le Pain Quotidien. In the same year, I met my current boyfriend, Josh.

In 2020, I lost my job due to COVID-19 restrictions, and I did not see Josh for three months as we did not live together at the time. It was challenging as we were apart, and I did not have a job.  However, a few months later, I got my job back and moved in with Josh. I also passed my master’s in translation, got some translation projects and started volunteering again by translating videos for associations. Doing some volunteer tasks again felt so good, as I felt I was useful. It was a good sign from the Buddha.

Unfortunately, in May 2021, a sad event happened in our family. My stepdad’s mother, Nicole, passed away at the age of 72, and I could not attend the funeral due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time. I felt unfortunate not to be present for my family at this difficult time. Not long after the funeral, I was made redundant once again and felt useless. I then decided to go to France and stay for a month as the restrictions were lifted. It allowed me to think about my professional life and my life in general. My dad had just retired, which allowed me to spend time together and see my grandparents. The loss of my step-grandmother made me realise that I was lucky to have my grandparents on both sides still. After my month in France, my previous manager contacted me to rehire me. I was pleased to restart working with him and the company as I felt a sense of purpose again.

My life was more stable professionally, but I felt that I was missing something in my life. I was not part of a community (religiously, artistically, academically or sportively), and I missed that feeling. About the same time, I decided to join a spiritual group. I did not feel confident with the Christian group, and I tried Spiritual Church in the past, but I thought that it was missing some teachings and structure. I then remembered my Buddhist books and how I felt when I read them. I needed to join a Buddhist community. I then looked for a Buddhist centre near my living area and found Rissho Kosei-kai.

I contacted Rissho Kosei-kai for more information as this name was unfamiliar to me. I was nicely welcomed by Reverend Hosoya, who explained to me the basics of Rissho Kosei-kai and a bit of the history of Buddhism. I then came to the service on a Sunday and thought I was recognising myself in it. I followed its Basic Buddhism study course not long after and learned many things I had not read in books, such that practising the Six Paramitas would lead to the supreme awakening. I had tried to practise generosity as much as possible by giving some money to charities or giving time and energy to family and friends. However, I realised that it is a constant work that I need to keep improving. I am also completing the Lotus Sutra introductory study course. The courses and the Sangha members’ sharing have made me feel closer to the Buddha than before. I also had my Gohonzon (Rissho Kosei-kai’s focus of devotion; the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni—Great Benevolent Teacher, World-Honoured One) set up about a year ago in my house, and I chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” in front of the Buddha in the morning and evening as a thank you for what I have and for guidance in my life. Being part of the community helps me have a structure and discipline that allows me to develop myself daily to be better for others. I also try to liberate myself from attachment causing suffering, and I think having the support of the Sangha and a better understanding of the Buddha’s message is very helpful. My dad has always been inspirational and my model. He is so generous, patient and caring that I feel like he is a boddhisatva to me, and I have much to learn from him. He told me once that after my mum cheated on him and was pregnant by my stepdad, he was ready to take my mum back and raise the child. I think that it was due to his attachment to my mum, but he also showed some compassion as well as acknowledgement and remorse towards my mum. One of my flaws that I have been trying to work on for a few years is my jealousy or fear that my partner is cheating on me. It might be due to my mum having an affair when I was a child, and it stays deeply inside of me.

Since joining RKUK, I have learned much about acknowledgement and remorse, and also non-attachment. I try to be less attached to these feelings of “jealousy” as it just brings negativity. I now tend to appreciate my partner, who supports and loves me. I also understand that despite some difficulties and hard times I had in the past, I have been fortunate to have what I have. Moreover, I became more understanding of people’s actions/thoughts. We all have buddha nature within us and try to do our best to find happiness. I now do not feel as lost as I did, and I am happy with simple things in my life. I recognise now that my dad has been much of my inspiration as he is not materialistic and seems satisfied with simple things, such as walking, playing cards with friends and reading. After reflection, I can more deeply recognise that I was born into this family. They showed me how to be compassionate to others. I vow to continue perfecting myself to be of help to others. Finally, I would like to thank Reverend Hosoya, the Sangha members and my family, who have been supporting my spiritual journey.

Flower Festival of RKUK London Buddhist Centre in 2023

You May Also Like…


Grateful life – Spiritual journey in the UK #1


Spiritual journey in the UK #2


Embracing my imperfections led me to be patient with others – Spiritual journey in the UK #4