“Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.” –The Buddha
My present spiritual contemplations are about friendship. How to be a good friend to myself and others. Discovering what friendship looks and feels like. What does it mean to be in an authentic friendship? I didn’t learn from my upbringing what actually goes into a healthy friendship.
What did you learn about friendship from your parents and childhood? Write about that.
There is a passage from the Upaddasutta where the Buddha’s attendant, Ānanda excitingly expresses to him the value of friendship: “Vernable, sir, this is half of the holy life, this is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.”
The Buddha surprised Ānanda with this reply: “Not so, Ānanda! This is the entire holy life, Ānanda, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship. When a bhikkhu [monk, bhikkhunī, nun] has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that she will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.”
What makes a good friendship, good companionship? Contemplate that; Write about that.
Without the support of others we are not likely to make much spiritual progress. The Buddha actually goes on to say that such support is essential.
None of us gets enlightened all by ourselves. My first spiritual friend/teacher Colleen Brenzy said, “You can’t heal in isolation.” The Buddha had teachers (spiritual friends) as well as companions with whom he practiced. And, as I have found true in my life, he may have gained insight and clarified practices through his teaching of others. Every time I mentor or hold a circle, I learn from the lessons I share. I also learn from what others offer. When I take a circle of people through a transformational journey, I go through the same journey. I learn and evolve too. (This is one reason all my online classes and live circles are offered with an open hand. I encourage you to use this material in whatever way you want, to hold your own circles, teach your own courses based on this material).
Being a mentor or facilitator of circles can help us to be clearer about what we do know.
Go HERE to let me read you this lovely story about The Mountain that Loved a Bird. (by Alice McLerran and Eric Carle) (only 12 minutes long)
This story for me is about how a mountain and a bird’s friendship healed the mountain and gave home for Joy. We can be this mountain that yearns for company. We may be the bird that brings the song and seed to others. We may be the seed. We may be the creek running down the mountain making everything green. When we let ourselves feel our emotions, our aloneness, along with our yearnings to be connected with each other, everything can become green. And we become that true friend to ourselves and others.
The Buddha sums up a teaching in a verse that includes “A friend gives what is hard to give, and does what’s hard to do. They put up with your harsh words, and with things hard to endure. Some are just drinking buddies, some call you their dear, dear friend, but a true friend is one who stands by you in need.” – The Buddha, from the Sigālovādasutta
Want to explore what is possible for you with a circle of friends? Click HERE.