Thanks for the insightful discussion.
And the dhamma friend with benefits bit, is really truly funny. Seriously. Perhaps lacking sensitivity, but funny nonetheless
The use of "dhamma friend" is a reference to where the Buddha spoke of the value of having companionship in the dhamma. Yes, it can be with benefits if it turns into a relationship. Your spouse would be your dhamma friend with benefits if he/she assists you in maintaining practice. In this case, the dhamma friend was about 1 step away from being dhamma spouse.
Alan, thanks for the reference to the rhino sutta.
The issue that David Snyder touched on here, the benefits of a layperson having a signficant other who practices with you, this cuts to the core of what I'm thinking about. I've been in past relationships with others that knew nothing of the dhamma, and to them it's a bunch of spacy BS and doubletalk. Scanning the field, I see more of the same type of people, who don't want to hear about the dhamma, want to run if you speak of it. Because at least here in the West, even Theravada teachings seem "new age" and "fruity" to most people, even though it's "old age" and more fundamental than what is popularly accepted. Living with a person who does not understand the dhamma, and only understands pop/material culture like 95% of those out there, makes it almost impossible to maintain practice and makes one think of monastic life.
A practitioner becomes forced to either throw away diligent dhamma practice or the significant other who doesn't "get it" because of constantly conflicting values. If we value wanting little, most of the world values wanting everything...how to reconcile those differences?..you don't....try to explain to someone why you want to sit for 1 hour, 2 hours and watch your breath, when they want to go to the movies, bar, etc.. They think you re crazy
Most people don't care about dhamma, they care about sense pleasures and that's it.
In any case, I was a little set back to learn that my "dhamma friend" decided to pursue another path toward self-glorification/career in pediatric medicine. So, now I get to practice non-clinging..
What a gift, that has been given to me, for development.
As for the idea of medicine being a noble practice; that's our worldly ideal, it is reported that the Buddha said it was an animal art. Okay perhaps for a layperson, but not noble in the sense of something that people should try to do with their lives.
From Digha Nikaya 2:
"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as: ...administering emetics, purges, purges from above, purges from below, head-purges; ear-oil, eye-drops, treatments through the nose, ointments, and counter-ointments; practicing eye-surgery [or: extractive surgery], general surgery, pediatrics; administering root-medicines and binding medicinal herbs — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue."