Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The role of the spiritual friend

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

So, with virtual e-sangha’s and small clusters of likeminded folks, we all encounter spiritual friends and are sometimes called upon to be spiritual friend to others. However it takes a lot of maturity to know how to fulfill that role, and it is good to consider it with care.

I don’t think a spiritual friends job is to teach, he is not the teacher. But at the same time he is not disinterested, he is an observer who has the ability to provide input. He can give hints, but how strongly should he or she word these hints? I think the key is not to disturb the nature of the spiritual friendship.

It is a thin line to walk, in order to help others without being pushy or overly critical or insulting, damaging the relationship. It is very much a question as to how open the other person is, how accepting of your input. It can be very difficult to gauge.

BunksmarcitkolobsterWalkerVastmindShoshinpersonSuraShine

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Hello Kerome

    I thought the term "spiritual friend " was originally a term used to give credence to the Sangha for the spiritual support that one Sangha member can offer to another.

    To say that a spiritual friends job is not to take on the job of teacher is an interesting truth for while everyone teaches, this statement points out the important difference between the unavoidable teaching by the example of ones own practice and the taking on of a role of a teacher to another.
    While a teacher and a spiritual friend can have many overlapping roles, a spiritual friend should also be reminding themselves when necessary to not assume the role of a teacher to another whereas a teacher should be reminding themselves when necessary to not assume the role of spiritual friend to their students.

    I think that your "thin line to walk" (which is difficult to gauge) is best understood as a study of spiritual means which is largely a practice of the letting go of the ego/identity or selfish self that separates any one being from anybody else.

    The only thing that I would call a disturbance to the nature of a spiritual friendship would be the increasing or hardening of a delusion where a transcendence or a softening of that delusion was otherwise possible?

    lobsterShoshinKeromeperson
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    The role of the spiritual friend

    There are no hard feelings between true spiritual friends, no grudges, what's said is said and what's done is done, no clinging, just flowing...they are there when needed and not when not...They understand you as you understand them...

    howlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    There is one more factor 'the other'. You might feel you are a SF (spiritual friend) and be teachin' 'n apreachin'.
    You might feel you have something important to pass on/teach/fiend educate.

    Do your best. If in doubt nothin' works. Just be there.

    Spiritual fiend lobster :3

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Explorer

    A friend of mine announced that he intended to become a hermit of some kind and dedicate his life to meditation on behalf of all sentient beings. This was one of my more gregarious friends, with a wide circle of friends who love his openness and concern for them.
    A mutual friend on hearing his plans said “ the only hermit you would make is on a brightly lit stage with a spotlight right on you!”
    We all laughed in recognition, including the would-be hermit.
    Thank Buddha for friends.
    It needn't always be lofty or profound stuff that we share as spiritual friends.

    Walkerperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Choephal said:
    A friend of mine announced that he intended to become a hermit of some kind and dedicate his life to meditation on behalf of all sentient beings. This was one of my more gregarious friends, with a wide circle of friends who love his openness and concern for them.
    A mutual friend on hearing his plans said “ the only hermit you would make is on a brightly lit stage with a spotlight right on you!”
    We all laughed in recognition, including the would-be hermit.
    Thank Buddha for friends.
    It needn't always be lofty or profound stuff that we share as spiritual friends.

    You know, you’re right, spiritual friends too need to be able to share laughs and good times. But at the same time spiritual friends are not the exact same as regular friends. I see a cautionary aspect in your story, because the joke that was told was also making fun of your friend’s aspiration to meditate for the benefit of all mankind. In a way, a spiritual friend’s role is to set a good example, to encourage spiritual endeavours, to help him on his path. Or maybe also to dissuade him from something he’s not ready for ;)

    Anyway my personal experience is that periods of retreat and quiet contemplation are very good for finding yourself.

    lobster
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Explorer
    edited August 30

    They know each other very well and both they and everyone else involved in the conversation have taken formal vows to generate Bodhicitta. So it wasn’t so much his aspiration for all sentient beings, but rather the idea that he would actually become a hermit that caused merriment.🙂
    People can be surprising, but he is the least likely hermit you could imagine..and he knows it really. Although he does frequently go on short retreats. Or he did before Covid.

    lobsterKerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Or he did before Covid.

    Ah the long hermit retreat. For many the first enforced introspection.

    • what am I doing?
    • what am I following?
    • am I a lemming?

    Or maybe also to dissuade him from something he’s not ready for ;)

    What are we like?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:

    Or he did before Covid.

    Ah the long hermit retreat. For many the first enforced introspection.

    • what am I doing?
    • what am I following?
    • am I a lemming?

    Certainly I think Covid has confronted a lot of people with what their lives would be like if they weren’t so busy. People are trying to keep the treadmill of the economy in place, it makes me think of the saying of a cousin... the wheel is still spinning, but the hamster is dead.

    We are so much part of the pattern of behaviours that we are embedded in that many people don’t see the reality of things anymore.

    I was reading Papaji’s satsang book and it struck me how many people came to him at a turning point in their lives.

    Choephallobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited August 31

    @how said:

    Hello Kerome

    Hello @how I hope you are well today...

    I thought the term "spiritual friend " was originally a term used to give credence to the Sangha for the spiritual support that one Sangha member can offer to another.

    I have heard it referring to a senior monk who is providing guidance to a junior monk. But I think it is something that goes beyond the Sangha of monks, it is a role which those who are spiritually more advanced may take with regard to those who are merely spiritually interested.

    To say that a spiritual friends job is not to take on the job of teacher is an interesting truth for while everyone teaches, this statement points out the important difference between the unavoidable teaching by the example of ones own practice and the taking on of a role of a teacher to another.

    Yes, everyone teaches by example. But you don’t go to just anyone for a teaching, the bar for being a spiritual teacher is different. But I think relatively few people go looking for spiritual friends, companions to share the journey with, and even fewer give their opinions some degree of credence.

    Because in the end that is what the Sangha is all about, not just that you spend time with people but that you investigate and acknowledge their insight. That you accept their input, when they choose to offer it.

    The only thing that I would call a disturbance to the nature of a spiritual friendship would be the increasing or hardening of a delusion where a transcendence or a softening of that delusion was otherwise possible?

    That would certainly be a sign of an unhealthy spiritual friendship! But delusions are difficult to tackle, I drunk coffee once a week for a year with a man who is an ardent Trump supporter and into conspiracy theories. I think in the end steady contact with other people was softening his stance a little, but it did take perseverance.

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Explorer

    @Kerome said:

    @lobster said:

    Or he did before Covid.

    Ah the long hermit retreat. For many the first enforced introspection.

    • what am I doing?
    • what am I following?
    • am I a lemming?

    Certainly I think Covid has confronted a lot of people with what their lives would be like if they weren’t so busy. People are trying to keep the treadmill of the economy in place, it makes me think of the saying of a cousin... the wheel is still spinning, but the hamster is dead.

    We are so much part of the pattern of behaviours that we are embedded in that many people don’t see the reality of things anymore.

    I was reading Papaji’s satsang book and it struck me how many people came to him at a turning point in their lives.

    @Kerome said:

    @lobster said:

    Or he did before Covid.

    Ah the long hermit retreat. For many the first enforced introspection.

    • what am I doing?
    • what am I following?
    • am I a lemming?

    Certainly I think Covid has confronted a lot of people with what their lives would be like if they weren’t so busy. People are trying to keep the treadmill of the economy in place, it makes me think of the saying of a cousin... the wheel is still spinning, but the hamster is dead.

    We are so much part of the pattern of behaviours that we are embedded in that many people don’t see the reality of things anymore.

    I was reading Papaji’s satsang book and it struck me how many people came to him at a turning point in their lives.

    I think many come to a spiritual path after a crisis of some kind. I used to think a crisis was an essential part of the process, but I have a less dogmatic view now. Some clearly come by more gentle routes. But I think for many of us our thick carapace needs cracking a little to let the light in..to quote Mr Cohen.

Sign In or Register to comment.