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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Aug 14, 2022

With stories of yogis who spent years practicing alone in isolated mountain caves, it might seem like Buddhism promotes a solitary path. But in reality, Buddha spoke many times of the importance of good friends. Friends that are a good influence on us are essential to our well-being and spiritual development. Once, Ananda said to the Buddha that good friends are half the Holy Life. Buddha replied, “No, Ananda, having good friends isn’t half of the Holy Life. Having good friends is the whole of the Holy Life.” 


Buddha also said, “it is better to go alone” than to have friends who negatively influence us. Because we are so easily, almost subconsciously, affected by those we spend a lot of time with, we must choose our companions carefully. In this episode, we look at how vital deep friendships are and the inner qualities of friendship.


In the Sigalaka Sutra, the Buddha named these four types of friend:

  1. The helpful friend:  
  • protects you when you are careless
  • looks after your property when you are forgetful
  • is a refuge when you are frightened
  • when some need arises, gives you twice the wealth required


  1. The friend who shares one’s happiness and suffering:
  • reveals their secrets to you, but guards your secrets 
  • would not abandon you when you are in trouble 
  • they would even sacrifice their life for your sake


  1. The friend who points out what is good:
  • discourages you from doing evil or harmful things 
  • enjoins you in doing good things
  • informs you what you have not heard 
  • points out the path of love and compassion


  1. The sympathetic friend: 
  • never rejoices in your misfortune
  • rejoices in your good fortune
  • stops those who speak poorly of you 
  • commends those who speak praise of you


Which of these four types of friends best describes you? What qualities of friendship could you improve? In our weekly mindfulness practice, we can engage in purposeful actions to strengthen our friendships and inner qualities.


If you find an intelligent companion, 

A fellow traveler 

A sage of good conduct, 

You should travel together, 

Delighted and mindful, 

Overcoming all dangers. (328) 


If you do not find an intelligent companion, 

A fellow traveler 

Of good conduct and wise, 

Travel alone, 

Like a king renouncing a conquered kingdom, 

Like the elephant Matanga in the forest. (329)* 


There is no companionship with a fool; 

It is better to go alone. 

Travel alone, at ease, doing no evil 

Like the elephant Matanga in the forest. (330)


References and Links


Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011. (Link)


Wikipedia contributors. (2021, October 21). Kalyāṇa-mittatā. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:38, August 14, 2022, from

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