During a retreat, a female participant came to one of my female friends during lunch break and said that she found my friend particularly affable and somewhat close to heart. Even though that was the very first time they met and having merely exchanged smiles. She introduced herself briefly and they exchanged numbers to keep in contact. This could be a delightful ‘reunion’ for both of them, I thought to myself.
In Dighajanu Sutta, the Buddha identifies four traits conducive to happiness in this life to be:
1) being hard-working (uṭṭhāna-sampadā), being skilled and diligent in one’s livelihood;
2) having vigilance (ārakkha-sampadā), protecting one’s wealth from theft and disaster;
3) having virtuous friendship (kalyāṇa-mittatā), associating with and emulating those embodying faith, virtue, generosity and wisdom; and,
4) having balanced living (sama-jīvikatā), abstaining from flirting, drunkenness, gambling and evil friendships.
And a kalyanamitra should consist of the following qualities:
4) ability to counsel well,
5) patience (in listening),
6) ability to deliver deep discourses and the not applying oneself to useless ends. (AN 7.36)
I think it is not an uncommon that when strangers meet for the first time, both feel the other look somewhat familiar or even close. Of course, there are times when one just feel like punching a stranger, but highly not encouraged!
I came to know a Dharma friend (DF) whom I might have some past karmic affinity with. I feel a connection with DF, but somehow our friendship never really blossom. We did exchange a few brief emails and that’s about it. When we met face-to-face during Dharma talks or retreats, all we do is to greet each other politely, smiled and walk on. There is always this inexplicable peculiar feeling in the air when I see DF, and sometimes I can sense DF’s awkwardness too.
Not sure what affinity we had in the past. I certainly hope nothing hurtful happened. Perhaps we had done the same things (greeting each other politely, smiling and walking on) for kalpas and neither of us had done anything further. Whatever it is, whether it’s a one-way feeling or not, I hope we can be real kalyanamitras (spiritual friends) and transcend this strange situation. At the same time, I sincerely wish that my friend and her newfound kalyanamitra will develop a fruitful spiritual friendship together.
In the Upaddha Sutta (SN 45.2), Venerable Ananda enthusiastically declares, ‘This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.’ The Buddha replies, ‘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 and comrades, he can be expected to develop and pursue the Noble Eightfold Path.’ (The whole sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.
May we all have one or more kalyanamitras in our spiritual lives.