Volume 5 - Issue 06
IN THE COMPANY OF THE VIRTUOUS
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Venerable Channa.
In spite of repeated admonitions and advice given by the Buddha, Channa did as he pleased and continued to scold and abuse the monks. The Buddha, knowing this, said that Channa would not change during the Buddha’s lifetime but after his demise (Parinirvana) Channa would surely change.
On the eve of his parinirvana, the Buddha called Venerable Ananda, his closest disciple to his bedside and instructed him to impose the brahma-punishment (Brahmadanoa) to Channa; i.e., for the monks to simply ignore him and to have nothing to do with him.
Relying solely on this association with the Buddha, Venerable Channa developed a misguided notion of an elitist self-importance. He made no attempt to earn his status through self-effort.
The Buddha rebuked Venerable Channa three times for his improper behavior towards the two chief disciples. Then, the Buddha counseled him to forge a friendship with them, because they offered him genuine friendship.
He had, however, become imprisoned in his own ego-centric self-aggrandizement and ignored the Buddha. He had lost sight of the goals of self-transformation, and self-realization, which the Buddha’s teachings were imparting.
He continued his stubborn defiance to the very end of the Buddha’s earthly sojourn. Still, the compassionate Buddha left behind pertinent instructions, which ensured his spiritual progress and liberation.
Those who are bad friends:
1) Are eager to benefit from you.
2) Only pay lip service and do not follow their words with commensurate actions.
4) Influence you towards harmful habits, like drinking alcohol.
Also, the Buddha mentioned friends, who only seek you out for self-gratification, personal gain and selfish motives. Such friends are manipulative and temporary. They quickly absent themselves, when their needs are not met.
The Buddha’s definition of friendship is centered around spiritual advancement. Genuine friends lead you towards spiritual and dharmic progress. They always dissuade you from wrong and harmful actions. Good friendships are based on selfless love, and incorporate human values.
When we are able to understand these definitions of good friendship and translate that into genuine expression, in all our interactions, in every relationship, then, the divine spark ignites in ourselves and others.
“It is essential to suffuse all our actions with Dharma. That Dharma should be dedicated to the Divine. When this happens, life becomes sanctified,” Swami says.
Realistically, friendship with everyone, may not be possible, but it is certainly possible, and essential, to befriend God, who resides in every heart. We are then inviting God into our life. God, who ultimately, is our only true friend.
References: Dammapada Chapter 6 verse 3
- Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
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