The theme of friendship is an important one to be considering as we live in the world. We were born into this world. We have a shorter or longer lifespan in this world. We don’t live separately from other people. We have the association with others as human beings. And, the friendships that we make are the ones that sustain us, support us, give us a sense of connection to each other.
…It is the qualities that we remember of each other as we think about our friends. It’s the qualities that are important and those are the things that are actually carried on — various qualities. So, for ourselves as well, trying to recollect what kind of qualities to bring into our own lives. How do we want to associate with others? And how are we able to relate to each other in ways of friendship?
In particular, in Buddhist teachings, the Buddha places a great importance on spiritual friendship or admirable friendship, Kalyanamitta. When we have noble friends or have good friends, those are the things that help support us in our own life and in our own aspiration for living skillfully.
Sometimes being a good friend isn’t necessarily always doing what your other friends want. Sometimes a good friend is one who is willing to point out when your friends may be doing something that might be harmful or that may not be of benefit to them or that is going to create disharmony.
Being a good friend is also sometimes being willing to criticize if it’s necessary or if you think it’s something that is really right or appropriate.
So that being a good friend is always looking out for the benefit or the good, not just in the short term but also in the long term — the benefit and happiness of one’s friends.
Friendship is perhaps something that we only tend to think of as having a group of friends or helping friends or being in social situations, and of course these are very important. But as the Buddha said, so much of what supports the spiritual life is having good friends — the nurturing of our spiritual aspirations is fulfilled by how we cultivate friendship.
These reflections by Luang Por Pasanno are adapted from the book, Like a River, The Life of a Boy Named Todd, Chapter: “Friendship.”