Thread: Friendship,Buddhism, and non-attachment.

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    Friendship,Buddhism, and non-attachment.

    I have a question regarding friendship and non-attachment. Is it considered wrong or bad in Buddhism to have friends you really care about since Buddhism teaches we shouldn't be attached? For example I love my best friend and I'd hate it if we stopped being friends or something happened to him. I guess my question is what is the Buddhist response to this situation. I guess I'm asking is it wrong or bad to have close friends in Buddhism?

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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    the Buddha encouraged to have good friends, here:

    "These four, young householder, should be understood as foes in the guise of friends:

    (1) he who appropriates a friend's possessions,
    (2) he who renders lip-service,
    (3) he who flatters,
    (4) he who brings ruin.

    (1) "In four ways, young householder, should one who appropriates be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he appropriates his friend's wealth,
    (ii) he gives little and asks much,
    (iii) he does his duty out of fear,
    (iv) he associates for his own advantage.

    (2) "In four ways, young householder, should one who renders lip-service be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he makes friendly profession as regards the past,
    (ii) he makes friendly profession as regards the future,
    (iii) he tries to gain one's favor by empty words,
    (iv) when opportunity for service has arisen, he expresses his inability.

    (3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who flatters be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he approves of his friend's evil deeds,
    (ii) he disapproves his friend's good deeds,
    (iii) he praises him in his presence,
    (iv) he speaks ill of him in his absence.

    (4) "In four ways, young householder, should one who brings ruin be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he is a companion in indulging in intoxicants that cause
    infatuation and heedlessness,
    (ii) he is a companion in sauntering in streets at unseemly hours,
    (iii) he is a companion in frequenting theatrical shows,
    (iv) he is a companion in indulging in gambling which causes heedlessness."

    Thus spoke the Exalted One. And when the Master had thus spoken, he spoke yet again:

    The friend who appropriates,
    the friend who renders lip-service,
    the friend that flatters,
    the friend who brings ruin,
    these four as enemies the wise behold,
    avoid them from afar as paths of peril.



    "These four, young householder, should be understood as warm-hearted friends:

    (1) he who is a helpmate,
    (2) he who is the same in happiness and sorrow,
    (3) he who gives good counsel,
    (4) he who sympathises.

    (1) "In four ways, young householder, should a helpmate be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he guards the heedless,
    (ii) he protects the wealth of the heedless,
    (iii) he becomes a refuge when you are in danger,
    (iv) when there are commitments he provides you with double the
    supply needed.

    (2) "In four ways, young householder, should one who is the same in happiness and sorrow be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he reveals his secrets,
    (ii) he conceals one's own secrets,
    (iii) in misfortune he does not forsake one,
    (iv) his life even he sacrifices for one's sake.

    (3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who gives good counsel be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he restrains one from doing evil,
    (ii) he encourages one to do good,
    (iii) he informs one of what is unknown to oneself,
    (iv) he points out the path to heaven.

    (4) "In four ways, young householder, should one who sympathises be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he does not rejoice in one's misfortune,
    (ii) he rejoices in one's prosperity,
    (iii) he restrains others speaking ill of oneself,
    (iv) he praises those who speak well of oneself."

    Thus spoke the Exalted One. And when the Master had thus spoken, he spoke yet again:

    The friend who is a helpmate,
    the friend in happiness and woe,
    the friend who gives good counsel,
    the friend who sympathises too —
    these four as friends the wise behold
    and cherish them devotedly
    as does a mother her own child.

    Sigalovada Sutta
    Last edited by Element; 19 Jul 11 at 07:51.

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    Forums Member FBM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by white_wolf View Post
    I have a question regarding friendship and non-attachment. Is it considered wrong or bad in Buddhism to have friends you really care about since Buddhism teaches we shouldn't be attached? For example I love my best friend and I'd hate it if we stopped being friends or something happened to him. I guess my question is what is the Buddhist response to this situation. I guess I'm asking is it wrong or bad to have close friends in Buddhism?
    white wolf, do you see friendship as inseparable from attachment?

    If you are attached to something impermanent, you desire it to be permanent. But since impermanence is one of the inherent features of things, being attached to them produces suffering. I don't know of any reason that friendship and attachment must go together.

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    Forums Member andyrobyn's Avatar
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    It is seeing it for what it is - understanding that friendship, good friendship, will be impermanent - change is inevitable ... for me this means being willing to go through whatever it brings - remaining open to the sadness, as well as the happiness. The alternate is to not try and live less fully somehow - it helps me to remember that we will not always get what we want and we will make mistakes, as will others.

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by white_wolf View Post
    For example I love my best friend and I'd hate it if we stopped being friends or something happened to him.
    You can not control this. It is not in your hands to retain a friend. There is no way to be successful in that.

    I guess my question is what is the Buddhist response to this situation. I guess I'm asking is it wrong or bad to have close friends in Buddhism?
    Friends are good. Reflect and contemplate the teaching given by Element. Friends are welcome with or without "Buddhism's".


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    Forums Member stuka's Avatar
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    This "Attachment" in the Buddha's teachings is a poor translation. A better one is "clinging", which is specifically brought about by craving for status and ownership, i.e., driven by ignorance, greed, or anger.

    This whole idea of "being attached to anything is a Bad Thing" a later misapprehension of the teachings. Even though it is rather a popular notion, and we are even seeing it being presented in forums here as an indictment of things such as reason and knowledge, it is simply a misconception and can be happily ignored. The technical term for it is "woo".

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuka View Post
    This "Attachment" in the Buddha's teachings is a poor translation. A better one is "clinging".
    Right Stuka... We cling because we crave. More clear can't be told.


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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuka View Post
    A better one is "clinging"...
    "Burdened", "heaviness", is also a nuance

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    Forums Member andyrobyn's Avatar
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    For sure, it is an individual journey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by white_wolf View Post
    I have a question regarding friendship and non-attachment. Is it considered wrong or bad in Buddhism to have friends you really care about since Buddhism teaches we shouldn't be attached? For example I love my best friend and I'd hate it if we stopped being friends or something happened to him. I guess my question is what is the Buddhist response to this situation. I guess I'm asking is it wrong or bad to have close friends in Buddhism?
    My teacher taught me that friendship, marriage, etc. is all about learning to love. You won't gain anything by letting them go and not being attached to people.

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