The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. V. Good Friendship

Each week we study and discuss a different sutta or Dhamma text

Moderator: mikenz66

Post Reply
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16470
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. V. Good Friendship

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:14 pm

The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. V. Good Friendship

Strong communities dependon on relationships. Here we move from personal cultivation to the establishment of interpresonal relationships, beginning with friendship. The Buddha put an emphasis on choice of friends, which have a profound influence on one's development, as well as the creation of a harmonious and upright community. Friendship enlarges our sphere of concern from teh self to others. Good frienship plants in us a sense of discretion, the ability to distinguish between good and bad, and to choose teh honorable over the expedient.
The Mangala sutta Snp 2.4, which enumerates thirty-two blessings, begins with "the avoidance of foolish persons and associationg with the wise."

1. The qualities of a true friend

This first sutta is general:
(1) Seven factors
AN 7.36
See this page: http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html 5. Paṭhamamittasuttaṃ - First on friends

This second is more specific to monastic life:
(2) Another seven factors
AN 7.37
See this page: http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html 6. Dutiyamittasuttaṃ - Second on friends

This text analyses the qualities of a true friend in greateer detail, distinguishing four types of "kind-hearted friends":
2. Four kinds of good friends
DN 31

Young man, be aware of these four good-hearted friends: the helper, the friend who endures in good times and bad, the mentor, and the compassionate friend.

“The helper can be identified by four things: by protecting you when you are vulnerable, and likewise your wealth, being a refuge when you are afraid, and in various tasks providing double what is requested.

“The enduring friend can be identified by four things: by telling you secrets, guarding your own secrets closely, not abandoning you in misfortune, and even dying for you.

“The mentor can be identified by four things: by restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, telling you what you ought to know, and showing you the path to heaven.

“The compassionate friend can be identified by four things: by not rejoicing in your misfortune, delighting in your good fortune, preventing others from speaking ill of you, and encouraging others who praise your good qualities.”

The following is an extract from a discourse to a layman. Though good friendship is listed under the factors pertaining to present welfare, we see that it serves as a stimulus to spritual development and long-term well-being.
3. Good friendship in the household life
AN 8.54

“And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders’ sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.

Monastic life in Early Buddhism is sometimes imagined to be a solitary adventure. However, there are many suttas describing how good friendship is conducive to the arising of the path.
4. Good friendship in monastic life

In this sutta, the Buddha corrects Ananda's statment that good friendhip is "half of the spiritual life":
(1) To Ananda
SN 45.2

Here he explains how a teacher and student support and care for each other:
(2) When a monk has good friends
AN 9.3
See this page: http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html 3. Meghiyasuttaṃ - Venerable Meghiya

See also: Ud 4.1

Extract from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of AN 9.3

“Meghiya, when liberation of mind has not matured, five
things lead to its maturation. What five?
(1) “Here, Meghiya, a bhikkhu has good friends, good com-
panions, good comrades. When liberation of mind has not
matured, this is the first thing that leads to its maturation.
(2) “Again, a bhikkhu is virtuous; he dwells restrained by
the Pātimokkha, possessed of good conduct and resort, seeing
danger in minute faults. Having undertaken the training rules,
he trains in them. When liberation of mind has not matured,
this is the second thing that leads to its maturation.
(3) “Again, a bhikkhu gets to hear at will, without trouble
or difficulty, talk concerned with the austere life that is condu-
cive to opening up the heart, that is, talk on fewness of desires,
on contentment, on solitude, on not getting bound up [with
others], on arousing energy, on virtuous behavior, on concen-
tration, on wisdom, on liberation, on the knowledge and vision
of liberation. When liberation of mind has not matured, this is
the third thing that leads to its maturation.
(4) “Again, a bhikkhu has aroused energy for abandoning
unwholesome qualities and acquiring wholesome qualities; he
is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating
wholesome qualities. When liberation of mind has not matured,
this is the fourth thing that leads to its maturation.
(5) “Again, a bhikkhu is wise; he possesses the wisdom that
discerns arising and passing away, which is noble and penetra-
tive and leads to the complete destruction of suffering. When
liberation of mind has not matured, this is the fifth thing that
leads to its maturation.

“When, Meghiya, a bhikkhu has good friends, good com-
panions, good comrades, it can be expected of him that he will
be virtuous, one who dwells restrained by the Pātimokkha . . .
. . . will train in them.
“When a bhikkhu has good friends, good companions, good
comrades, it can be expected of him that he will get to hear
at will, without trouble or difficulty, talk concerned with the
austere life that is conducive to opening up the heart, that is,
talk on fewness of desires . . . on the knowledge and vision of
liberation.
“When a bhikkhu has good friends, good companions, good
comrades, it can be expected of him that he will arouse energy
for abandoning unwholesome qualities . . . not casting off the
duty of cultivating wholesome qualities.
“When a bhikkhu has good friends, good companions, good
comrades, it can be expected of him that he will be wise, possess-
ing the wisdom that discerns arising and passing away, which
is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction
of suffering.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests