Friendship can be explicitly incorporated into the development of the spiritual life. The Buddha did not just teach people to meditate and ignore the dynamics of relationships; on the contrary, he taught people to live well with one another and regard the respective roles we play in each other’s lives with mindfulness, wisdom, and kindness.
In our study group last night we came upon a lovely passage about friendship (from Digha Nikaya 31):
“There are five ways in which a man should minister to his friends and companions…: by gifts, by kindly words, by looking after their welfare, by treating them like himself, and by keeping his word. And there are five ways in which friends and companions, thus ministered to by a man…, will reciprocate: by looking after him when he is inattentive, by looking after his property when he is inattentive, by being a refuge when he is afraid, by not deserting him when he is in trouble, and by showing concern for his children.”
These standards seem just as relevant today as they were 2600 years ago. Are you a good friend? Are there ways that your spiritual life can inform the kind of friend that you can be? Do you appreciate people who have been good friend to you?