Kalyāṇa-mittatā | Developing the noble friendship
A friend in Dhamma
The practice of meditation and of the Dhamma teaching is not easy. It requires great discipline, devotion, and faith. For these reasons, the Buddha himself advised his disciples to always have a friend in Dhamma who is wise and can support them in their commitment and spiritual growth.
We all need a kalayāṇa-mitta, and we can also be a good friend in Dhamma to someone else. When we feel frustrated about our meditation, disappointed by life and unhealthy relationships, or when we simply don’t feel motivated to practice the teaching of the Buddha, we can count on our community of kalayāṇa-mittatā, who will, by setting a good example, remind us what the right path is.
“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who has a good friend abandons what is unwholesome and develops what is wholesome.” Iti 1.17
Cultivation of noble relationships and friendship is an integral part of our spiritual practice. Kalyāṇa-mittatā is the Buddhist concept of "spiritual friendship", and it is applicable to both monastic and householder relationships. One involved in such a relationship is known as a "good friend," "virtuous friend," "noble friend" or "admirable friend" (kalyāṇa-mitta).
In traditional Buddhist practice, the spiritual friendship is a relationship between a student and their spiritual teacher. From the aforementioned suttas, we can see that the Buddha believed it vital for spiritual growth to have a friend in Dhamma. They work together to think, speak, and behave in a constructive way towards life, in order to reach the highest goal.
'This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.' 'Don't say that, Ānanda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.' Upaddha Sutta (SN 45,2)