Friendship

In the Buddha’s teachings, there are four kinds of friends: friends who treat you like a flower, friends who act like a balance, friends who are like the mountains, and friends who are like the earth.

Friends who treat you like a flower

We all enjoy flowers, especially when they are fresh. We put them in vases to decorate our homes, we give them to our loved ones to express our affection, and we may even wear them in our hair. However, when the flowers wilt, we toss them out like trash. Some people treat their friends like this. They are delighted as long as their friends can fulfill certain needs of theirs, but when their friends outlive their usefulness, they toss them out like wilted flowers. 

It is so habitual for us to love what is beautiful and scorn what is not. Curbing this tendency is a significant step in making and maintaining friendships that will last a lifetime.

Friends who act like a balance

There are, then, some people who act like a scale and continually compare themselves to their friends. They are envious when they perceive their friends to be doing better than they are, and are boastful when they feel like the scale is tipping in their own direction. The scale will never be balanced, for these people are not content unless they have “one-upped” their friends. This kind of judging and comparing within a friendship is quite damaging.

Friends who are like the mountains

Some friends are analogous to mountains. Like mountains that are full of rich ore, flowers and wildlife, these friends are full of treasures and wonders. With these friends, we are constantly reminded of the beauty and diversity of life. We can learn a lot in these friendships.

Friends who are like the earth

Some friends are like the great earth that lets everything grow in its rich soil. Such friends can help us grow in our wisdom and strengthen our character.

The Agamas speak of the four kinds of friends that should be cultivated.

The first kind is friends that can help us tell right from wrong. They let us know when our conduct is admirable and are not afraid to tell us when we behave poorly. Such friends help us stay on the right path.

The second kind is friends that are compassionate and caring. They give us moral support during our trying times. They are also happy for us when we are doing well.

The third kind is friends that are always ready to extend a helping hand. They are pillars of strength. They help us stay focused and come to our aid when we are lost.

The fourth kind is friends that share our aspirations. Such friends provide us with encouragement and are not hesitant to share their time and resources. Good friends can help us discover our capacity for connection. When we cultivate these relationships properly, we will be experts at living affinity.

Although we should still show kindness and compassion to all of these people, it is not wise to keep their company. Friendships should be based on mutual affinity, not one-sided effort. Real friendships are an actual and resounding expression of true joy. Our capacity to create and nurture affinity is infinite; we simply need to uncover the wisdom and motivation to do so.

A key element for us as we strive to relate to each other in more appropriate and expansive ways is the way we regard and manage our emotions.

No relationship is barren of emotions, and it is essential that they are investigated and handled with wisdom. We need explore the wisdom of managing our emotions, with hope that we can all handle our relationships with increased skill, so that all beings can benefit from our ever-expanding ability to love.

From Living Affinity, written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

Image from Pixabay.

More Featured Articles

What are people supposed to do when they are troubled by afflictions? Some people are troubled by very specific things, others encounter poverty, and many have poor relations with other people. Some individuals are disturbed the moment they hear even the slightest comment they do not like, or they become Read more
Though sitting meditation was given to us from the ancient past it is a way for modern people to lead happy lives. Sitting meditation allows us to dispel the pressures of daily life that come from the mind’s confusion and a mistaken understanding of phenomena. Practicing sitting meditation quiets the Read more
Do you feel inspired when you see people help each other? Not everyone is. Some people may look at a generous donation and say, “Donating such a small amount of money is nothing extraordinary for such a rich person.” When other people suffer from disasters and pain like the many Read more
What, exactly, is the meaning contained within this gong’an? For instance, some have asked, what are people like? This is a very difficult question to answer because if there are things they are like, then there are things they are not like. If we answer that people are like ghosts, Read more
Being patient is an art, and being persistent is a kind of hope. Influenced by today’s instant culture, modern people tend to expect instant results in anything they do. Practitioners want to have attainment in this life, scholars want to become instant laureates in their fields, and entrepreneurs want to Read more
True stature is not created by form or ornament; words spoken out of jealousy and greed oppose it. Only when evil has been stopped at its roots, and when there is wisdom without anger is there true stature.— Dharmapadavadana Sutra The False Stature of This WorldEveryone wants to be well Read more
If we want to understand what the Dharma teaches us about building affinity and living in harmony with others, we must first understand the four great all-embracing virtues. The Buddha teaches that for us to realize our true capacity of connecting with and serving our fellow citizens, we have to Read more
It is only through loving-kindness and compassion that we can find room in our hearts to forgive others. It is only through our willingness to let go of resentment that we can find a way to magnanimity.  Read more
Given that I have become a monk, I have placed demands upon myself. My sense of leaving the secular and focusing on the path must surpass others; my sense of self restraint and doing for others must be strengthened. I must learn to endure disadvantage, and I must let others Read more
Compassion is the father, the bodhi mind the mother. Good methods are like friends because they save all sentient beings. — Great Collection of True Dharmas Sutra Compassion Is the Father Compassion removes suffering and creates joy. The sutra says, “The power of the Dharma is beyond expression. Nothing can Read more
In devoting my life to Buddhism, in order to keep Buddhism current with the advances in society, in terms of thoughts, I am always making improvements at every hour and moment; in terms of practice, I am constantly and continuously making adjustments. Even though I know that Buddhism must be Read more
The Sumati Sutra discusses fulfilling both worldly and supramundane needs. Sumati’s first three questions are regarding obtaining an elegant appearance, obtaining wealth, and keeping a harmonious family life—all of these are concerned with success in this life. Being satisfied in this way ensures that a bodhisattva will not be hindered, Read more