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The Practice of Friendliness, Kalyanamittata, in Buddhism

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I. The Virtue of Friendliness

A monk is expected to be mindful of the feelings of friendliness towards all living things.  He is expected to cultivate assiduously this all embracing virtue of friendliness for the whole world, starting in the morning and continuing throughout the day. "Staying, walking or sitting, or lying down, till he falls asleep, he should remain in this state of mind." (Sutta Nipata)

In order to achieve this the monk is expected to detach himself mentally from his own body and look upon himself and all the beings in the world with true friendliness and love. After spreading the feeling of love in all directions, he should practice the same with other three virtues, namely, compassion, joy and equanimity. It is believed that the practice of friendliness and unbound compassion contribute to universal peace and welfare of the world.

The practice of friendliness would  finally lead to gentleness of character, positive state of mind, inner peace, freedom from conceit, absence of anger, inner joy and eventually freedom from birth and death. (From Kuddhakapatha)

II. Admirable friendship kalyanamittata

The definition

"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 the principle of kamma] 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." — AN VIII.54

A cause for the development of skillful qualities

"With regard to external factors, I don't envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart's goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful."
— Iti 17

Choose your companions with care

"These are the four drains on one's store of wealth: being debauched in sex; being debauched in drink; being debauched in gambling; and having evil people as friends, associates, and companions. Just as if there were a great reservoir with four inlets and four drains, and a man were to close the inlets and open the drains, and the sky were not to pour down proper showers, the depletion of that great reservoir could be expected, not its increase. In the same way, these are the four drains on one's store of wealth: being debauched in sex, being debauched in drink, being debauched in gambling, and having evil people as friends, associates, and companions."  — AN VIII.54

A prerequisite for Awakening

"If wanderers who are members of other sects should ask you, 'What, friend, are the prerequisites for the development of the wings to self-awakening?' you should answer, 'There is the case where a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues. This is the first prerequisite for the development of the wings to self-awakening.'" — AN IX.1

The whole of the holy life

As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

"And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve...right speech...right action...right livelihood...right effort...right mindfulness...right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how having admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."
— SN XLV.2

The benefits of admirable friendship

"Meghiya, when a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will be virtuous, will dwell restrained in accordance with the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior and sphere of activity, and will train himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults.

"When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will get to hear at will, easily and without difficulty, talk that is truly sobering and conducive to the opening of awareness, i.e., talk on modesty, on contentment, on seclusion, on non-entanglement, on arousing persistence, on virtue, on concentration, on discernment, on release, and on the knowledge and vision of release.

"When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will keep his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful qualities, and for taking on skillful qualities — steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities."

When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will be discerning, endowed with discernment of arising and passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress."— Ud IV.1

Qualities of a Dhamma teacher

"It's not easy to teach the Dhamma to others, Ananda. The Dhamma should be taught to others only when five qualities are established within the person teaching. Which five?

"[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

"[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

"[3] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak out of compassion.'

"[4] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'

"[5] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak without disparaging myself or others.'

"It's not easy to teach the Dhamma to others, Ananda. The Dhamma should be taught to others only when these five qualities are established within the person teaching." — AN V.159

Keeping company with the wise

It's good to see Noble Ones.
Happy their company — always.
Through not seeing fools
constantly, constantly
one would be happy.

For, living with a fool,
one grieves a long time.
Painful is communion with fools,
as with an enemy —
always.
Happy is communion
with the enlightened,
as with a gathering of kin.

So:
the enlightened man —
discerning, learned,
enduring, dutiful, noble,
intelligent, a man of integrity:
follow him
— one of this sort —
as the moon, the path
of the zodiac stars.
— Dhp 206

Never with an evil companion

I'm blind,
my eyes are destroyed.
I've stumbled
on a wilderness track.
Even
if I must crawl,
I'll go on,
but not with an evil companion.

— Thag 95

Suggested Further Reading

 

 

 

Source:: Admirable friendship kalyanamittata has been reproduced and reformatted from Access to Insight edition © 2005 For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish, however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and other derivative works be clearly marked as such.
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