June 09, 2011

Qualities of a Spiritual Friend

In the past two weeks we've been talking about the Qualities of a Spiritual Friend.  The Buddha speaks of these after Ananda asks him about friendship.  Ananda says that he feels the importance of a spiritual friend is about fifty percent of practice and the Buddha corrects him and says, "No Ananda, it's one hundred percent."  The Buddha goes on to name those qualities which a spiritual friend practices to bring about and express connectivity.

In our discussion in the Zendo, I said that I thought these qualities are at the base of all relationships - sangha, teacher-student, parental, spousal, sibling, work, professional - and they indicate, just as the precepts do, the spiritual-ethical qualities we cultivate in the Bodhisattva path.  It's never easy to be a true friend, but it would be foolish not to try.  Perhaps the main qualities that we cultivate in this practice are the virtues of generosity, honesty, and loyalty.  And, there are other qualities that we can see that arise in our interactions.  This list is a fine subject for the journal, exploring the many depths of each quality and examining how we are doing in our spiritual expression and quality of life.

Here are the Seven Qualities of a Spiritual Friend which the Buddha expresses as most important:
A friend gives what is difficult to give.
A friend does what is difficult to do.
A friend patiently endures what is difficult to endure.
A friend reveals her or his own secrets
A friend keeps another's secrets.
A friend does not abandon another in misfortune.
A friend does not despise another because of their loss.