So I was looking a bit further into the afflictions, and I came across this page with teachings from Thubten Chodron, where she talks about root causes of the afflictions and the influence that having the wrong kinds of friends can have on our lives:
It put me to thinking about the friends I have, who are not all Lilly-white in disposition. A couple of guys who I have shared some ups and downs with have struggled with addiction and depression recently, and when I think of their energy it does not seem totally wholesome and upright in nature to me. But they are somewhat interested in Buddhism, so that is something.
But I thought I would take it to the NewBuddhist sangha and ask, at what point does a friend become a “wrong friend” and starts feeding the afflictions in you? Have you ever ended a friendship over what effects others were having on your state of mind?
Anybody who constantly "breaks" the 5 precepts (even if they're not Buddhist, and don't know what the Precepts are), and does so with wilful intent and knowledge that it is a 'wrong-doing' is to my mind, the "Fool" the Buddha spoke of.
Also, the term "Emotional Vampire" springs to mind.
They need skilful handling, but in the end, if the damage is not seen to by them, they too need being tactfully held at arm's distance....
ETA: And yes, 2 such 'friendships' spring to mind.
What came to mind when reading the topic are what's called samaya corrupters in Tibetan Buddhism.
Classically, samaya is the connection one forms with ones's guru during an abisheka (bestowment of a vajrayana deity on the practitioner). The ultimate samaya which does not differ from the connection with one's teacher is the connection with enlightened mind.
Anyone who interferes with those samayas is considered a samaya corrupter in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and should be avoided.
There is really a lot more to this that can be found easily on Google.
Tolerance levels may vary @Kerome ....Some people are better equipped 'mentally' to cope with unsavoury relationships than others...And I guess some long term Dharma practitioners tend to find themselves in the company of 'like-minded' people, that is, their behaviour/the way they live their lives attracts the like-minded... Well something like that...
I completely agree Shoshin. I've cut my circle of friends down considerably this year due to their behaviour and the effect it was having on me....
Make friends with the three jewels. Friends or ourselves as brick walls will be moved past or through in our own time ...
Friends affect you that's for sure, the closer they are to you, the more of a influence they are.
Well its up to your own judgement to judge who is friend and who is not. And who is in between.
I think it's sometimes hard to judge though, it's sad when someone who you thought was a friend gets involved in harmful activities but what can we do apart from to tell them not to and sometimes if its right lend a small help or pointer. Practice non-attachment.
Well said @pegembara
Thank Buddha I am not an Amish, otherwise I would have to put myself foward for shunning ...
Focus or right concentration can seem cultish BUT being in this lay world, we must provide a little discipline to the mix. Samsara is our buddy BUT it takes wisdom, restraint and discernment to know what we require ...
I’m still in two minds about this, on the one hand I’ve never found it that easy to make friends, acceptance always seems to take a lot of time and making first contact is never that easy. On the other hand I’ve seen the benefits of being in a spiritual environment with the right friends in the past, and found it to be significant. But that’s just me... I guess at 45 it’s not so easy to change your social stripes and become more of a butterfly.
Associating with the wise indeed - it’s a good quote. It’s a shame that so much our society is set up to make it easy to connect with the drunkards, those in thrall to music, the competitive, and so on. People follow their desires. One need to choose one’s venues carefully to have a chance of being near the wise.
Jim Rohm reckoned we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I believe that to be true in my experience. For example I'm a sober alcoholic because I spend time with other alcoholics in recovery. And I'm a fit bloke who runs marathons, ultra marathons and lifts weights because I spend time with other runners and weight lifters (I live with an accomplished runner too).
I really disliked getting sober, sorting my life out, and I have a love/hate relationship with running.
But the thing that makes the difference are the people I spend time with.
Choose them wisely.
Well said @Tosh
One of the five can be The Buddha
It all reflects back on ourselves.
No one is perfect before enlightenment, and that includes ourselves.
Yet somehow our teachers are the friends of us relatively-unskilled Buddhists.
The key point is how well WE handle the imperfections of others.
If we are not able to retain compassion for our friends, or even worse if we give in and participate in wrongful action with them .. then we are not ready to be their friend and it harmful to both of us to keep company.
The focus on Buddhism is to seek out teachers who can help us grow, and that is the focus on whether or not someone is to be a friend.
But that difficult people are also our teachers. It is easy to practice Patience if no one bothers us, if we only hang out with wise and kind people.
So in light of that, those people who upset us ARE our "kind teachers" because they give us the OPPORTUNITY to see our attachments and aversions, and give us the opportunity to work on learning patience and compassion.
It is so easy to just remove ourselves from difficult people, but it doesn't help us grow.
I left my husband after a long time of trying to master myself in response to his behaviors. But I did not leave my compassion behind. As an alcoholic, he struggles daily to keep his "boat" from capsizing. He is alone in the world except for his dog and for my friendship. And even though sometimes I WANT to take a trash can and dump it over his head, he is indeed a "kind teacher" (but only with the context of a friendship) and I gain as much as he does from our continuing friendship. Although .. often I wish he would move far away. Not all learning is pleasant.
I agree that we are influenced by those we spend time with. That is why I go to the local temple regularly and participate in the Practices there and listen to the teacher. Because they are the major influence on me.
I think this prayer is a very difficult one, but very important to learn to appreciate. The secret to both happiness and Buddhist practice is NOT found in focusing on our own preferences: