Effect of friendship with bad people

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Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Mon May 18, 2009 4:59 pm

I am not sure where to post this...

The Buddha has said:
If the one who does no wrong
Follows one who is evil,
He himself will be suspected of evil
And his reputation will decline.

According to the friends one makes,
According to who one follows,
So does one become.
Like one's associates one becomes.

Follower and following,
Toucher and touched alike,
An arrow smeared with poison
Infects those arrows that are not poisoned,
So that all are fouled.
The upright person not wishing to be soiled
Should not keep company with the fool.

If one strings a piece of putrid fish
On a blade of kusa grass,
The grass will smell putrid too;
The same with one who follows the fool.

If one wraps frankincense
In an ordinary kind of leaf,
The leaf will soon smell sweet too;
The same with one who follows the wise.

Remembering the example of the leaf wrapping
And understanding the results,
One should seek companionship with the wise,
Never with the fool.


OK, so I think I have had the bad fortune of associating with a fool. I mistook him for a happy person because I was fooled by his smile. But indeed, he was a fool, and I only realized it later.

It's too late. I can't return to the past and undo this. I have been smeared, poisoned, and spoilt. :cry:

So my question is, is that the end of my goodness. Have I damaged my virtue beyond repair? Have I deprived myself of the possibility of enlightement???

Looking forward to your replies,

with gratitude,
Stefan

P.S.: frankly, I have been thinking and pondering this for quite a while now, almost all day long, every day, all I do is regret and remorse.
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Jechbi » Mon May 18, 2009 5:18 pm

Hi Stefan,

No.

I wish this topic was in a different forum than classical Theravada, because I have some thoughts I'd like to share, but they're off-topic here. As briefly as possible, friendship is a gift that you offer, and we can't always know the outcome. Okay, so my scriptural reference to make this on-topic would be the story of Angulimala. Certainly we can agree he was a fool, and also that the Buddha became his friend. And also that none of us has done anything as egregious as Angulimala, yet Anguliamala could still become enlightened. So there's always hope.

Metta
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Mon May 18, 2009 5:24 pm

Jechbi wrote:Hi Stefan,

No.

I wish this topic was in a different forum than classical Theravada, because I have some thoughts I'd like to share, but they're off-topic here. As briefly as possible, friendship is a gift that you offer, and we can't always know the outcome. Okay, so my scriptural reference to make this on-topic would be the story of Angulimala. Certainly we can agree he was a fool, and also that the Buddha became his friend. And also that none of us has done anything as egregious as Angulimala, yet Anguliamala could still become enlightened. So there's always hope.

Metta
:smile:


Thanks,

(Maybe the thread can be moved to a more appropriate forum?)
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Mon May 18, 2009 5:36 pm

Could one, by being freinds with the wise and avoiding fools, completely erase the effect of previous association with fools, or will he be forever smeared?
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Fede » Mon May 18, 2009 6:13 pm

Stefan, there is nothing to erase. You associated with a fool, and now you don't. Your action was not volitional.
That is to say, you did not say to yourself:
This man is a fool! I can see he is a fool! But I am going to associate with him, even though I know him to be a fool!"

Now: There may have been a time when you began to suspect he was a fool, but you still associated with him.
And that is fine.
You were doing so, because you were not certain whether you were right, or maybe he was just a fool occasionally, and he was not always like this....
And that's fine, because the Buddha tells us to test the waters everywhichway possible, before making our minds up....
Stefan, you are fine.
there is nothing to eradicate, nothing to worry about. Really.
:hug: :hug:
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Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Mon May 18, 2009 6:29 pm

Hi Fede, I wish it was true, but I have read that doing something injurious while thinking it is beneficial, is worse than knowing it is injurious and going ahead with it.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby genkaku » Mon May 18, 2009 6:32 pm

How about considering the fact that associating with what we blithely call "fools" is a wonderful tool for not being foolish? If you make a foolish mistake and recognize it and then correct it to the best of your ability, how can you be called other than wise? And the same goes for recognizing the mistakes of others ... if we recognize those mistakes and do our best not to mimic them, isn't that wisdom ... and don't we owe a great debt to such "fools" for showing us the way?

One of the biggest jackasses anyone could hope to meet is apparent in any mirror...take a look. Our greatest jackass: our greatest teacher: our greatest wisdom: and, if you insist on injecting 'virtue,' our greatest virtue. This is no joke ... please think it over.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Mon May 18, 2009 6:43 pm

genkaku wrote:How about considering the fact that associating with what we blithely call "fools" is a wonderful tool for not being foolish? If you make a foolish mistake and recognize it and then correct it to the best of your ability, how can you be called other than wise? And the same goes for recognizing the mistakes of others ... if we recognize those mistakes and do our best not to mimic them, isn't that wisdom ... and don't we owe a great debt to such "fools" for showing us the way?

One of the biggest jackasses anyone could hope to meet is apparent in any mirror...take a look. Our greatest jackass: our greatest teacher: our greatest wisdom: and, if you insist on injecting 'virtue,' our greatest virtue. This is no joke ... please think it over.


I wish I had a friend like you. Thanks mate.
With metta,
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby kc2dpt » Mon May 18, 2009 8:08 pm

Stefan wrote:So my question is, is that the end of my goodness. Have I damaged my virtue beyond repair? Have I deprived myself of the possibility of enlightement???

Get over yourself.

Every person, before they are enlightened, are unenlightened.
Every person, before they have perfected virtue, has engaged in all manner of unvirtue.
Every person, before they have learned to distinguish foolishness from wisdom, has spend countless eons with fools.

In these regards you are nothing special. We all pick ourselves up from wherever we are and move forward from there. What else can we unawakened folks do?

As someone else said, you certainly aren't any worse off than Angulimala.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Cittasanto » Mon May 18, 2009 9:45 pm

Hi
There are four ways to know a person, I can not remember which sutta it is in, but sometimes trial and error is needed to find out what kind they are
I suppose association with the wise is at times using ourown wisdom, but this is off topic for this part of the forum, and I only answer in such a manner as I do think this thread may be moved to a more open discussion room.

WM
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 19, 2009 1:11 am

Greetings,

Stefan wrote:(Maybe the thread can be moved to a more appropriate forum?)


Moved to the General Theravada....

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Nibbida » Tue May 19, 2009 1:52 am

There's no such thing as a fool, only people who have acted foolishly.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby BlackBird » Tue May 19, 2009 3:25 am

genkaku wrote:How about considering the fact that associating with what we blithely call "fools" is a wonderful tool for not being foolish? If you make a foolish mistake and recognize it and then correct it to the best of your ability, how can you be called other than wise? And the same goes for recognizing the mistakes of others ... if we recognize those mistakes and do our best not to mimic them, isn't that wisdom ... and don't we owe a great debt to such "fools" for showing us the way?

One of the biggest jackasses anyone could hope to meet is apparent in any mirror...take a look. Our greatest jackass: our greatest teacher: our greatest wisdom: and, if you insist on injecting 'virtue,' our greatest virtue. This is no joke ... please think it over.


Wise words indeed.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Individual » Tue May 19, 2009 4:31 am

Stefan wrote:I am not sure where to post this...

The Buddha has said:
If the one who does no wrong
Follows one who is evil,
He himself will be suspected of evil
And his reputation will decline.

According to the friends one makes,
According to who one follows,
So does one become.
Like one's associates one becomes.

Follower and following,
Toucher and touched alike,
An arrow smeared with poison
Infects those arrows that are not poisoned,
So that all are fouled.
The upright person not wishing to be soiled
Should not keep company with the fool.

If one strings a piece of putrid fish
On a blade of kusa grass,
The grass will smell putrid too;
The same with one who follows the fool.

If one wraps frankincense
In an ordinary kind of leaf,
The leaf will soon smell sweet too;
The same with one who follows the wise.

Remembering the example of the leaf wrapping
And understanding the results,
One should seek companionship with the wise,
Never with the fool.


OK, so I think I have had the bad fortune of associating with a fool. I mistook him for a happy person because I was fooled by his smile. But indeed, he was a fool, and I only realized it later.

It's too late. I can't return to the past and undo this. I have been smeared, poisoned, and spoilt. :cry:

So my question is, is that the end of my goodness. Have I damaged my virtue beyond repair? Have I deprived myself of the possibility of enlightement???

Looking forward to your replies,

with gratitude,
Stefan

P.S.: frankly, I have been thinking and pondering this for quite a while now, almost all day long, every day, all I do is regret and remorse.

Yes, friendships with bad people aren't true friendships. And when associating with bad people or good people, it tends to rub off. Morality and immorality are both contagious.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Nadi » Tue May 19, 2009 4:38 am

Peter wrote:
Every person, before they are enlightened, are unenlightened.
Every person, before they have perfected virtue, has engaged in all manner of unvirtue.
Every person, before they have learned to distinguish foolishness from wisdom, has spend countless eons with fools.

In these regards you are nothing special. We all pick ourselves up from wherever we are and move forward from there. What else can we unawakened folks do?


I agree. And thinking about past mistakes and worrying about it, is making the situation worse. You are creating more bad kamma by hanging on to it. So you should learn from the past, but let go of it. To me it sounds like you are putting yourself through unnecessary suffering!
With Metta,
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Jechbi » Tue May 19, 2009 5:32 am

Hi Stefan,

Friendship is such a wonderful thing. Sometimes it's too easy to throw away. I don't know the content of the friendship you're referring to, but if this is a longtime friend who has changed and developed over time (as you have), then it can be much more serious (in my opinion) to decide after all that time that the person was just a fool all along. If it was a short-term friendship and you quickly found out there's something about this person that makes the friendship inappropriate, then that's another story.

In my opinion, it's not usually correct to say that so-and-so is just a fool, with no redeeming qualities. And in my opinion, friendship is very much about giving -- giving understanding, giving patience, giving a person space to make mistakes, giving a person the opportunity to just be who they are. Giving a person forgiveness. Giving a person another chance. Ok, there are times when that's not going to be appropriate any more. But haven't we all been fools sometimes? And haven't there been times when we've needed a friend? That's the kind of friend I think Buddhism teaches us to be, in my opinion.

I was particularly intrigued by this part of your OP:
Stefan wrote:I have been smeared, poisoned, and spoilt.

I cannot imagine for the life of me how you could be smeared, poisoned and spoilt by a friend (or even by an enemy, or by anyone else for that matter). Maybe your "friend" persuaded you to do something unwise? If so, that's your fault, not your friend's. Regardless, at this moment the best course of action almost certainly is to wish that person well, wish that person liberation and happiness. And then take care of yourself. If you have been a fool, what kind of friend do you need? Be that kind of friend to yourself.

I'm sorry you've had a bad experience with friendship. Please don't get down on yourself about it. You're okay.

If this post does not apply to your situation, please disregard it.

Metta
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Ben » Tue May 19, 2009 10:40 am

Hi Stefan

I have to reiterate Peter's and Genkaku's good advice.
Maintain your precepts, maintain your pracice and you will be fine.
Mere association will not 'spoil' you.
Metta

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Tue May 19, 2009 11:14 am

My worry is that having had such a bad companionship does not befit a noble person and has made the prospect of enlightenment less possible.
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby genkaku » Tue May 19, 2009 12:02 pm

Dear Stefan -- Please stop badgering yourself. If enlightenment were somehow "possible," how could that possibly be enlightenment? It's not something fancy: Can water attain wetness? Is the nobility or virtue of water somehow diminished because it cannot attain wetness? Just because you may be confused, does that mean you are confused?

Just take your time and keep up your good practice. Pay attention. Take responsibility. Be firm but gentle. That is enough.

Best wishes.
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Re: Effect of friendship with bad people

Postby Stephen K » Tue May 19, 2009 12:10 pm

genkaku wrote:Dear Stefan -- Please stop badgering yourself. If enlightenment were somehow "possible," how could that possibly be enlightenment? It's not something fancy: Can water attain wetness? Is the nobility or virtue of water somehow diminished because it cannot attain wetness? Just because you may be confused, does that mean you are confused?

Just take your time and keep up your good practice. Pay attention. Take responsibility. Be firm but gentle. That is enough.

Best wishes.

OK. :thanks:
With metta,
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