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SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP

2018-08-25 00:01:49
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“Do not associate with evil companions; 
Do not seek the fellowship of the vile. 
 Associate with good friends; 
 Seek the fellowship of noble persons.” 
 (Dhammapada) 

 

When one is inquired about one’s close associate, companion or friend, one should be able to happily affirm it. One should deeply and thoroughly concentrate on one’s own friendship. Some of them are polite and decent or spiritual, but some of them are contrary to it. Today, especially every youth should be very careful and wise enough to choose and select a suitable friend to associate with. It is a crucial fact that solely impacts one’s own life. 


Sometimes, the person who associates with you would either direct you to fortune or misfortune, failure or success. Perhaps, someone’s downfall and success depend on one’s friendship. Many individuals have met numerous challenges in their lives due to lack of spiritual friendship. 


The Buddha was the greatest spiritual teacher who guided and encouraged people to be equipped with the energy of spirituality. He advised everyone to renounce and give up unwholesome activities not only physically but also both verbally and mentally. In that regard, good friendship is very important. 


Relevant to that matter, young men, Kolitha and Upatissa are prominent personalities during the Buddha’s time. Although they assembled together with their associates for social entertainment in their lay lives, they were pursuit of spiritual aspiration, which was why both of them finally understood the vanity and vacuity of amusement and sensual pleasure. Like-mindedness and concordance are prime factors which encouraged them to meet the great master, the Gautama Buddha and finally became the chief disciples of the Buddha. Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggallyana are exemplary figures in the history of the dispensation of the Buddha. 

 

Spiritual friends guide and encourage us to be virtuous and righteous. That companionship will guide us towards a very peaceful and happy state here and hereafter

 

Once the Buddha affirmed and asserted to his chief attendant, Venerable Ananda Maha Thera that good friendship was utterly and entirely supportive for the practice of the Dhamma and accomplishment of spiritual aspiration. Bad association leads to evil path and miserable end. Good friendship leads to happy and pleasant path and ultimately settles in a peaceful destination. 


“A mother is the friend in one’s own home” (The Buddha – Samyutta Nikaya) 


“Monks, one should associate with a friend who possesses seven factors. What seven? 

1. He gives what is hard to give. 
2. He does what is hard to do. 
3. He patiently endures what is hard to endure. 
4. He reveals his secret to you. 
5. He preserves your secrets. 
6. He does not forsake you when you are in trouble. 
7. He does not roughly despise you. 

One should associate with a friend who possesses these seven factors.” 
“One who associate with inferior person declines 
One who associate with an equal does not decline 
Attending on a superior person one develops quickly 
Therefore you should follow one superior to yourself.” 
(The Buddha) 


Once, famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore was asked about his friends and he has pointed out his books as his best friends. In fact, good books are good friends. 


On one occasion, Venerable Ānanda, the Buddha’s chief attendant, came to the Buddha and said that in his view half the spiritual life revolves around spiritual friendship. The Buddha immediately corrected him and said, “Do not say this, Ānanda! Do not say this, Ānanda! Spiritual friendship is not half the spiritual life. It is the entire spiritual life!” Then, with reference to himself, the Buddha added, “In this whole world, I am the supreme spiritual friend of living beings, because it is in dependence upon me, by relying upon me, that those who are subject to birth, old age and death become liberated from birth, old age and death.” 


One should find a spiritual friend who does practice and cultivate wholesome inner qualities. Spiritual person always concentrate on virtuous matter and never engage in any wrongdoing and unwholesome activities. 


If one associates with a person who has an unethical behaviour, one would become the same or end up in a state of turbulence. 


If one associates with a spiritual friend, one would become the same and will have a favourable outcome. 


Spiritual friends guide and encourage us to be virtuous and righteous. That companionship will guide us towards a very peaceful and happy state here and hereafter. Most people concentrate only on this life but Dhamma friend always encourages us to contemplate on next life and many more lives to come.  


The Blessed One firmly explains that it is because of an “element” that people come together and unite. What is meant by “element” here is the basic disposition or trait of character. Thus, the Buddha says that those of inferior disposition come together and unite with those of inferior disposition, whereas those of superior disposition come together and unite. 


As parents, they should be kindhearted friends to their children, not only by advising and lecturing them but also by profound examples. I always believe that parents are the role models for our children. 


If parents break and violate the ethics and etiquettes or some precepts in front of children, what can we expect from the young generation? They should speak refined and polite language and behave well. Parents are trainers and mentors. Parents should set the example and lead ideal lives. If they show the way correctly with compassion and respect, children will follow their footsteps. 


That is why the great master, the Buddha, encouraged parents to perform exemplary duties such as dissuading from immoral activities and persuading to do good and wholesome deeds. Giving a decent education comes as the third duty of the parents. 


Unfortunately, most parents never concentrate on spirituality or any moral conduct of their child or children but they always struggle to force their children to accomplish only academic qualification. Some incidents and findings have revealed that it is an utter failure of parents. As a Buddhist monk, I must say that Buddhist monks should be Dhamma and spiritual teachers for their devotees and children who compassionately provide all requisites and necessities for their survival. 


I would like to state that Most Venerable Ampitiye Sri Rahula Maha Thera was my spiritual teacher from the prime of my youth before I became his disciple. Though I lived nearly 200 kilometres away from his monastery, he communicated with me through letters. His numerous advices, encouragements and guidance are still resounding in my mind. That was a classic example which is personally related to me. 


As a Buddhist monk our mission should be different from lay people. 


If a Buddhist monk involves in politics and other inappropriate activities which provoke and exasperate disharmony, discord and conflict in our society, it will be unsuitable and disastrous for the Buddhist monk and the golden opportunity we have got as Buddhist monks to serve the humanity will be lost. 
Once well-known French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire said: “Lord, protect me from my friends; I know how to protect me from my enemies.” 


“If one finds someone who points out faults and who reproves, one should follow such a wise and sagacious person as one would a guide to hidden treasure. It is always better, never worse, to cultivate such an association.” 
(Dhammapada)   


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