What makes great friends? Different people can give different answers to this question. Here is what the Buddha said about true friendship.
“Young man, be aware of these four good-hearted friends: the helper, the friend who endures in good times and bad, the mentor, and the compassionate friend.”
The Buddha, or The Enlightened One, was to a large clan called the Shakyas. Throughout his adult years, he created many sutras for humankind to learn from so that they, too, could eventually achieve enlightenment. Above all, the Buddha taught compassion and kindness, no matter the unkindness of others.
The Buddha also taught the people that we should hold near and dear to us in order to create a positive environment so that you may achieve enlightenment.
These people give us what we need for happiness and success to thrive, making them true and great friends. These relationships are much stronger when worked at and maintained, giving you a much richer life.
According to the Buddha, there are four unique types of the friend that we should seek and hold dear, so that we may have a positive environment around us.
1. The Helping Friend
- Protecting you
- Protecting your wealth
- Offering Sanctuary
- Giving double what is expected of them
2. The Enduring Friend
- Guards your secrets
- Shares their own secrets
- Never abandons you
- Would die for you
3. The Mentoring Friend
- Stops you from doing wrong
- Guides you towards good
- Telling you what you ought to know
- Shows you the path to samsaric heavens
4. The Compassionate Friend
- Does not reject you in times of misfortune
- Delights in your good fortune
- Prevents others from speaking badly of you
- Encourages those who speak of your good qualities
No matter how you live, friends are an important part of everyone’s lives. They reflect who you are as a person, build certain environments around you, and give you the support you need during hard times.
Whether your friends were made in school, through work, or teammates, those close to you are an important support network that you can draw strength from in times of need, and offer support when they need it.
So, what makes great friends, according to the Buddha?
The underlying aspects of the four friendship types are someone that brings out the best in you. They will push you to do the right thing and to better yourself, as well as discourage you from doing wrong. This person will tell you when they think you are making a mistake, even giving you advice on how to fix mistakes.
A great friend is someone that you can draw strength and seek guidance from in times of hardship. They will also protect you when you feel vulnerable. Great friends will keep others from talking ill of you and alert you to someone who has ill thoughts of you. They will keep your secrets and share theirs with you.
The aspects of these four friendship types may not occur entirely in one person. There may be aspects of more than one friendship personality present in one friend. It is important that we do not look solely for people that fit this exactly, as people are not entirely perfect.
These types of friends are simply personality traits that we should look for in those close to us. They are much more wholesome and supportive and give us the strong relationships that we need around us. With the support and love of these great friends, we are able to grow more positively as people and lead much more enlightened lives.
How can we be better friends to those around us?
The Buddha said that,
“Beings of admirable dispositions come together & associate with beings of admirable dispositions.”
It important to surround ourselves with good friends. But it is equally important to be a good friend to those around us. To be able to surround ourselves with good people and great friends, we much also be the kind and supportive friends that others seek.
We have the ability to support others in times of hardships, be true and honest. That is what we should do to lift others as well as ourselves in all of our relationships.
As we grow, we must decide who is important to us and make a conscious effort to maintain and develop those relationships. By offering the different personality traits of these four friendship types, we are able to offer the love and support that others need, as well as receive it in return.
By avoiding those that may be detrimental to us or those around us, we can create a better environment to thrive in and create success for ourselves. Surrounding ourselves with wholesome people who offer the aspects of these four friendship types gives us the freedom and support to be our true selves and make happiness much more achievable.
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