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I'm wondering what the Buddha said about spiritual friendship with the Buddha himself. From SN 45.2:

By the following method too, Ānanda, it may be understood how the entire holy life is good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship: by relying upon me as a good friend, Ānanda, beings subject to birth are freed from birth; beings subject to aging are freed from aging; beings subject to death are freed from death; beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair are freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair. By this method, Ānanda, it may be understood how the entire holy life is good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.

Are there any other texts that bring up this subject? What have later Buddhist teachers said about this?

References (from Sutras or otherwise) are welcome!

Grateful for help and with kind regards, Tord


UPDATE to make the question more clear: The question is specifically about friendship with the Buddha himself (not general friendship on the path). I have chosen to call this friendship "spiritual" but maybe "virtual" or another word would be better, or another word that describes that the friendship is different from a person alive in the typical sense

  • Kalyana means good, not spiritual. This should not be confused. – Ravindranath Akila Apr 5 '17 at 0:40
  • Yes, @Akila.. 'Good' is a far better word than 'Spiritual' - I shouldn't have used the word ''spiritual' - it is a 'loaded' word. – Saptha Visuddhi Apr 5 '17 at 2:08
  • @RavindranathAkila Thank you for the comment, this helps me clarify the question. The question is specifically about friendship with the Buddha himself (not general friendship on the path). I have updated the question to make this more clear – sunyata Apr 5 '17 at 7:35
  • This might be a related topic: How does one get closer to Buddha? – ChrisW Apr 5 '17 at 11:08
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Kalyana-Mitta, ‘Noble or Good Friend’, is called a person who is fully established in this Dhamma Path, and who walks the Noble Eightfold Path, and who is the mentor and friend of his friend, or associate, or fellow traveler in this Path, ‘wishing for her/his welfare and concerned with her/his progress.

Ananda, one of many principal disciples of the Buddha, once asked the Buddha if half of the reason for the spiritual life was friendship with others. The Buddha turned to Ananda, rebuking him mildly with the words, “Don’t say that, Ananda. The whole of the spiritual life is THIS.” From this, it shows that the association with a Kalyana Mitta is the WHOLE of the Holy Life. As for you and I, being a ‘Kalyana-mitta’ (noble friend) to others is the one way that we could show our gratitude for what we have gained.

This is especially important as our minds are very deceptive. We are all hard-wired to never be able to get out of this never ending ‘samsara’. So for example if your mind says one thing and for instance a noble friend says another, you’ll have to do weigh very carefully what the noble friend advices you before going forth with what your own mind tells you.

Majjhima Nikaya Suttas 84 Madhurā Sutta - At Madhurā and 94 Gotamukha Sutta -To the Brahmin Gotamukha show how a Kalyana Mitta would act. These two suttas describe how a person approached an arahant who was renowned for the strength and clarity of his teachings. This person requested that he be allowed to take refuge in the arahant, but the arahant replied that refuge could not be taken in him but only in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.

The Noble One (Ariya) in this sutta(s) was an arahant. Still he made it clear that the Buddha-Dhamma must be our guide, and that the Sangha can only assist us to do this for ourselves. Such is the advice of a Kalyana Mitta. In the Buddha’s words, as recorded in the Anguttara Nikaya Sutta 5.88, it is possible that even a world renowned monk, who has a large following of lay and monastic disciples and who is very learned in the scriptures, can have wrong views.

In the Anguttara Nikaya (Sutta 4.180), the Buddha told us that when any bhikku told us that such and such were the teachings of the Buddha, we should, without scorning or welcoming his words, compare the words of the monk with the Suttas and the Vinaya (the texts containing the code of monastic discipline). If they are not in accordance with the Sutta-Vinaya, we should reject them. It is only in this way that we will be able to distinguish between a teacher who teaches the true Dhamma and another who has wrong views.

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I believe "spiritual friendship" is a translation from Pali "Kalyāṇa-mittatā". Kalyāṇa could also mean beautiful, graceful. ( Lady Visaka was said to possess pañca-kalyani (five physical beauties, beautiful hair, teeth , etc.). Most obvious text I can think of is from number 1 and 2 from 38 blessings. Good friends will have good influence on your way of life.

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One would find the answer in the quoted sutta SN 45.2 it self, in the case it was not seen:

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me (the Buddha) as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."

Note: this is a gift of Dhamma and not thought for any commercial purpose or other worldy gains.

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The important sentence in SN 45.2 is:

When a bhikkhu has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.

rather than:

It is in dependence on me (the Buddha) as an admirable friend that beings

which, without reference to the Noble Eightfold Path, sounds like Christianity, which believes:

Never been a sinner I never sinned

I got a friend in Jesus

So you know that when I die

He's gonna set me up with

The spirit in the sky

Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky

That's where I'm gonna go when I die

When I die and they lay me to rest

I'm gonna go to the place that's the best

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