Friendship

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Friendship (mittatà) is a close, loving and non-sexual relationship between two or more people and is the human relationship that the Buddha praised above all others. He described what he called the ‘good-hearted friend’ (suhadamitta) as being there for us in good times and bad, encouraging us to do good, one we can confide in and who confides in us, who rejoices in our happiness and who speaks well of us (D.III,187). But to the Buddha the highest type of friend is the spiritual, literally ‘beautiful’ friend (kalyana mitta). While the good-hearted friend offers social and emotional support, the spiritual friend helps us understand and practice the Dhamma. The scriptures say, ‘What is friendship with the good? It is to follow after, to frequent the company of and to associate with people who are believers, who are virtuous, learned, generous and wise; to resort to and consort with them, be devoted to them, enthusiastic about them and be in unity with them’ (Dhs.1328). Once ânanda said to the Buddha, ‘I think that to have a spiritual friend is a half of the holy life.’ Then the Buddha replied, ‘Say not so ânanda, say not so! Friendship, association and intimacy with a spiritual friend is all of the holy life’ (S.V,2).

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