What do we look for in a friend? A good person. A person who is kind and caring. A person who loves to make you laugh and have fun with you. What does it take to be a good friend? You must always be there to listen when they need it.
This blog post discusses what it takes to be a good-hearted friend as well as the qualities to look for in a good friend with hints to the Buddhist view point.
It is important for friends to be accepting of others. Friends should support one another and help each other through challenging times. The most important thing about friends is to have fun with them, whether it be going to a movie, or just hanging out at home and playing games.
Friends should be able to respect each other’s opinions, but also have the ability to debate and discuss. If you have the chance to spend time with a friend, take it! Don’t get caught up in your busy schedule and miss opportunities to get together with friends. It is important to be respectful.
The Buddha taught that we should always respect others and their beliefs, so it is very important that if your friends do not have the same beliefs as you, you should respect their opinions and be open to having discussions with them.
Buddha’s Singalovada Sutta Speaks of Good-Hearted Friends
A few paragraphs in the singalovada sutta describe what true friends are; and what true friends are not; and how having true friends will lead to a blissful existence.
If we are lucky to have these kinds of friends, then we should treasure them and be grateful for them. True friends will support us whether we succeed or fail. You don’t need to look for perfection in friendship, instead find someone who has your back and truly cares about you.
Sigalovada Sutta is the Buddha’s discourse to Sigalaka (Sigala) on what constitutes good friends and bad friends.
In Sigalovada Sutta, Buddha says:
Know these four good-hearted friends, young man: the helper, the friend who endures in good and bad times (enduring friend), the mentor friend, and the compassionate friend.
- 1) There are four ways to identify a helper friend: by protecting you when you are vulnerable, or by protecting your wealth, by providing refuge when you are afraid, or by providing double what is requested.
- 2) The enduring friend is someone who tells secrets, guards your own secrets closely, does not abandon you in times of confusion, and even dies for you.
- 3) Mentor friends can be recognized by four things: restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, telling you what you need to know, and showing you the path to samsaric heaven.
- 4) A compassionate friend does not rejoice in your misfortune, but in your good fortune, prevents harm from being done to you, and encourages others to praise your virtues.
Good friends are those who are generous, cooperative, empathetic and supportive. The Buddha proposed that we look for these characteristics in the friendships we cultivate.
A helper friend is someone who gives more than they’re asked, always standing ready to take an interest in what you care about and listen to your concerns. This person comes to you as an independent person who wants to support you in any way that can be wholesome.
Compassionate friends are the people who are able to help you when you need it most- even if it means that their own life will suffer as a result. They are not the ones who only help you when it benefits themselves, and forsake you otherwise.
During my youth, I had friends who came to help me move house, had a long drive home, but still came back the next day ready to help again. In that sense, true friends are the people who will be there no matter what- when you need them most and will help you no matter the cost.
Bad friends can also be identified by several characteristics: taking without giving; grabbing at friendship when someone is in a difficult situation and making them feel pressured by their presence; being careless about other people’s feelings; and refusing to help friends in need.
These are the kind of people we should avoid.
Bad friends can be emotionally volatile, selfish, manipulative or even abusive. They will use you for their own means, and then discard you when they have reached their goal. This is not how friendship is supposed to work.
True or good friends encourage us to develop wholesomeness; protect us from wrongdoing; create harmony wherever they go; and support us in difficult times.
In conclusion, all of the major religions out there believe that compassion is the way to live in order to have true friends. It’s also important to remember that friendships should not be held just because it’s what society expects. It should be about having genuine connections with people who genuinely care about you and want to support you.
All of these qualities can be found in Buddha’s teachings. He teaches compassion to all living beings and the importance of understanding that they are not separate from you- we’re all connected.
Lastly, he taught that we should live our life with an attitude of gratitude for what we have and that is how it becomes easier to love unconditionally.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter what religion or faith you are. The most important thing is to treat every person with respect and care for them just as you would want to be treated. If we all do that, life will be a lot easier.