Good Friendship

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

 

Note: The following quotes are from the handout that inspired the awesome discussion we had during our April 9th gathering on “Good Friendship, Wise Communication.”

This post is dedicated to S.L. and H.L., two courageous members of the YWP who will be temporarily ordaining as novice monks this weekend. We are happy for and proud of them and wish them all the best on their mission!

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In the suttas, the direct teachings of the Buddha and his disciples recorded in the ancient scriptural texts, we can see that the Buddha placed great importance on friendship. Few suttas said it more simply and clearly than this:

“With regard to external factors, I don’t see any other single factor like noble friendship as doing so much.”  (Itivuttaka: 1.17)

The Buddhist path is a gradual one and having good friendship is the best way to make sure we help keep each other walking on the path.

In addition to the above quote, the Buddha had also given many other discourses on friendship. In the Mitta Sutta, the discourse on friendship, the Buddha stated the “gold standard” of what constitute a good friend:

“A friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? (1) He gives what is hard to give. (2) He does what is hard to do. (3) He endures what is hard to endure. (4) He reveals his secrets to you. (5) He keeps your secrets. (6) When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. (7) When you’re down and out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.” (Mitta Sutta: AN 7.35)

Another very famous sutta that focuses primarily on lay Buddhists provides ways we should behave when interacting with our friends:

“There are five ways in which a person should treat his friends and companions: (1) by gifts, (2) by kind speech, (3) by being helpful and looking after their welfare, (4) by treating them like himself, (5) by sincerity and keeping his word.”

There are five ways in which friends and companions thus treated by a person will reciprocate: (1) they look after him when he is careless, (2) they look after his property when he is careless, (3) they become a refuge when he is in danger, (4) they do not desert him when he is in trouble, (5) they show consideration and concern for his family.”(Sigalovada Sutta: DN 31)

In yet another sutta, the Buddha laid down “four grounds for the bonds of friendship”:

“There are these four grounds for the bonds of friendship. Which four? Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, and consistency. These are the four grounds for the bonds of friendship.” (Sangaha Sutta: AN 4.32)

 

Source: based on friendship post from “Handful of Leaves” blog: www.ahandfulofleaves.net

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