Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Today the discussion centers around the Buddha’s rule of friendship...”The rule of friendship,” the Buddha says, “means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks, and trying to benefit the other...” She then talks about the value of friends that can touch each other’s soul, stretch each other’s mind, or prod each other’s conscience.

Reflection questions:

1. How would you describe your own “rule of friendship?” Does Buddha’s definition have meaning for you? Why or why not? What criteria do you use when choosing friends?

I am growing into the Buddha’s rule. I don’t think I ever thought about the “mutuality” of friendship until recently...maybe starting 8 years ago when I decided to move to Kirksville, and even that was kind of just a glimpse of the meaning of this. I knew I “lacked something” and people I already knew in NE Missouri “had it” more than people in Columbia did. I am realizing now, at a more stable understanding of the value of friends, that I was striving to participate in this “rule” but sort of subconsciously.

I can’t think of any particular “criteria” when I choose my friends, but I do know that all of my closest ones, something happens in a non-coincidental way where it becomes apparent something one of us lacks gets lavished on the other in some sort of situation, and there seems to be a “completeness” for both of us from the experience. It seems my friends are “chosen” more by a shared experience than a set of traits.

2. Make a list of your closest friends. Describe how either the Buddha’s rule of friendship or your own rule of friendship works in those relationships.

I am pretty struck at how among my closest friends, there really IS a “You can use this from me, and I need this from you, and we’ll both be better for it” bond. We tend to be perfectly ok as independent people, but there is something when we are in the presence of each other, we are bigger than both of us in those moments when we “click.” Some of this “bigger than both of us” thing, frankly, is the big elephant under the rug of “love.” I have developed an awareness of the depth and power of love that our friends share with us.

Fifteen, twenty years ago, I would have compartmentalized this. I would have said “You like your friends and you love your significant romantic interest.” “Loving” your friends sounded a little creepy to me back then and had mixed messed up sexual overtones to me. Now, I would tell you there is an amazing deep and true-hearted form of love that you share with your best friends that is incredibly satisfying in its own right. (I suppose anyone who wants to feel skeptical about this can just pooh-pooh me by saying, “You say that b/c you ain’t gettin’ any,” but since some of my friends are married and they can vouch for this feeling, I don’t think it would be accurate to dismiss my thought solely on those terms.)

I have also discovered the delight of friends who you spiritually connect with, as well as connect on the “usual” interactive levels. Wow, that is powerful. In the middle of that is a love that is incredibly joyful...maybe because what I’m feeling is the love of God, not just the love of this friend alone, manifested through that friend. I think though, this is hard to vocalize, and sometimes I worry that I am not doing as much for my friends as my friends seem to do for me. I think sometimes the elephant under the rug keeps us from really saying to these people how important their love is to me and vice versa. I am trying to be better at this. I would hate to think I’d drop dead and these people would never know the depth to which they are loved!

3. Meditate on how your friendships mutually “really touch the soul or stretch the mind or prod the conscience.”

Here’s a non-coincidence: I had just said something to a friend yesterday about how our friends sometimes are catalysts even though the interaction at that moment wasn’t perfect. When I was tired and grouchy two nights ago, I was hoping for one sort of interaction with my friend, but didn’t really get it—yet the interaction “as is” was still a bit of a catalyst b/c it helped me see a bigger picture of something. Then there are the moments that I like to say culminate in that “extra nanosecond” I like to talk about. The moments when you and your friends “click” and the pure love and delight of it just shines through. Then there are the quiet or uncertain or scary or sad times when your friends can’t do a thing to help you, but they are “there” just the same, whether physically, or spiritually. I like ALL those moments!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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