Who Do You Associate With:  Good Friends Or Bad Friends?

By U Jotalankara

 

            "Friend" is a person who shares good or bad things with his companion.  There are two kinds of friends:  (1) a false or bad friend and (2) a true or good friend.

 

Four Bad Friends and Their Characteristics

(Footnote: Singala Sutta, Maha-Vagga, Digha-Nikaya)

There are these four types who can be seen as false or bad friends pretending to be true or good friends:  1. one who takes anything, 2. one who is a great talker or only pays lip-service by making empty promises, 3. one who flatters or only says pleasant things, and 4. one who is a fellow-spendthrift or debauched companion.

            1. The first bad friend, who takes anything, has four characteristics: (1) taking everything from you, (2) Wanting a lot for very little (or wanting much in return for giving only a little), (3) doing service only when he gets into trouble, and (4) seeking only his own advantage.

            2. The second bad friend, who is a great talker, has also four characteristics: (1) talking of favours in the past, (2) talking of favours in the future, (3) trying to please you with empty promises or mouthing empty promises of goodwill, and (4) pleading inability owing to some disaster when something needs to be done in the present.

            3. The third bad friend, who flatters, has also four characteristics:  (1) agreeing to the bad actions of you, (2) also, agreeing to the good actions of you, (3) praising you in your presence, (4) disparaging you behind your back.

            4. The fourth bad friend, who is a fellow-spendthrift or who debauches, also has four characteristiocs:  (1) being a companion when indulging in strong drink, (2) being a companion when haunting the streets at unfitting times, (3) being a companion when frequenting shows and entertainments, and (4) being a companion when indulging in gambling.  

 

Four Good Friends and Their Characteristics

(Footnote: Singala Sutta, Maha-Vagga, Digha-Nikaya)

            There are these four types can be seen to be good or true friends.  They are orderly: 1. one who is helpful, 2. one who is the same in happy and unhappy times, 3. one who points out what is good for you, and 4. one who is sympathetic.

            1. The first good friend, who is helpful, has four characteristics:  (1) looking for you when you are drunk, (2) looking for your possessions when you are drunk, (3) being a refuge for you are in trouble, and (4) leting you have twice what you ask for when some business is to be done.

            2. The second good friend, who is the same in happy and unhappy times, has four characteristics:  (1) telling you his secrets, (2) keeping your secrets, (3) not forsaking you when you are in trouble, and (4) sacrificing even his life for you.

            3. The third good friend, who points out what is good for you, has four characteristics:  (1) keeping you from wrongdoing, [it means "restraining you from doing the ten unwholesome courses of action: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, slandering, harsh speech, frivolous talk, covetousness, ill will, and wrong view"], (2) supporting you in doing good, [it means "encouraging you to do the ten courses of wholesome Kamma(= no-killing, no-stealing, no-sexual misconcduct, no-teling lies, no-slandering, no-harsh speech, no-frivolous talk or reasonable talk, no-covetousness, no-ill will, and right view), to give offerings, to take five precepts, and to practice meditation"], (3) informing you of what you do not know, and (4) pointing out the path to heaven.

            4. The fourth good friend, who is sympathetic, has four characteristics:  (1) not rejoicing at your misfortune, (2) rejoicing at your good fortune, (3) stopping others who speak against you, and (4) commending others who speak in praise of you.

            In Dutiya-Mitta Sutta (Footnote: Sattaka-Nipata, Anguttara-Nikaya), The Buddha said, "You should cultivate and follow a friend who is endowed with seven characteristics: (1) genial, (2) venerable or respetable, (3) praise-worthy, (4) clever in speech, (5) obedient or willing to do what others bid,  (6) profound in speech, and (7) not encouraging others to do evil."

            About good friends in Upaddha Sutta (Footnote: Maha-Vagga Samyutta, Samyutta-Nikaya), Venerable Ananda said to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, good friend-ship, good companionship, and good comradeship is half of the holy life.

            The Buddha said to Venerable Ananda, "Not so, Ananda!  Not so, Ananda! good friendship, good companionship, and good comradeship is the entire holy life.  When a Bhikkhu or a monk has a good friend, a good companion, or a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path." 

            Therefore, may you choose the good friends, associate with them, practice a suitable meditation under their instructions, and quickly attain Path (Magga), Fruition (Phala), and Nibbana.

            (This article is based on the following:  Singala Sutta, Pathikavagga, Digha-Nikaya, Dutiya-Mitta Sutta, Sattaka-Nipata, Anguttara-Nikaya, Upaddha Sutta, Mahavagga-Samyutta, Samyutta-Nikaya, Singala Sutta, The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Half the Holy Life, The Great Book, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, and The Same (Friends), The Book of the Seven, GRADUAL SAYINGS IV.)