Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
4Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Role of the Good Friend in the Gandavyuha Sutra

The Role of the Good Friend in the Gandavyuha Sutra

Ratings: (0)|Views: 407|Likes:
Published by Raymond Lam
An article published in Issue 14 of Bodhi Journal in December 2009. In this essay, the author opens up a refreshing new discussion on the “good friend” (kalyanarmitra) and its importance in spiritual development. By drawing from sources both modern and ancient, a model of the good friend is expanded to serve the spiritual needs of modern discipleship. The structure of the paper follows thus: a general but detailed overview of the good friend forms the first segment, followed by a study of the Gandavyuha Sutra, the thirty-ninth book of the Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra). By reflecting on the words of spiritual friends like Maitreya and Vasanti, who are also accomplished and divine bodhisattvas, more specific virtues of the good friend are identified and examined as specific applications in the contemporary Buddhist life. The essay also emphasizes the importance of facets of relationship between the individual and a good friend, for friendship requires relationship to function at its fullest potential. A good friend possesses many positive abilities and talents to bring out the best in their objects of affection, and these abilities and talents can be cultivated by anybody. The author argues that a totalistic model of the kalyanarmitra can be developed into a framework of personal growth and Dharma cultivation relevant to many different walks of life.
An article published in Issue 14 of Bodhi Journal in December 2009. In this essay, the author opens up a refreshing new discussion on the “good friend” (kalyanarmitra) and its importance in spiritual development. By drawing from sources both modern and ancient, a model of the good friend is expanded to serve the spiritual needs of modern discipleship. The structure of the paper follows thus: a general but detailed overview of the good friend forms the first segment, followed by a study of the Gandavyuha Sutra, the thirty-ninth book of the Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra). By reflecting on the words of spiritual friends like Maitreya and Vasanti, who are also accomplished and divine bodhisattvas, more specific virtues of the good friend are identified and examined as specific applications in the contemporary Buddhist life. The essay also emphasizes the importance of facets of relationship between the individual and a good friend, for friendship requires relationship to function at its fullest potential. A good friend possesses many positive abilities and talents to bring out the best in their objects of affection, and these abilities and talents can be cultivated by anybody. The author argues that a totalistic model of the kalyanarmitra can be developed into a framework of personal growth and Dharma cultivation relevant to many different walks of life.

More info:

Published by: Raymond Lam on Jan 03, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as RTF, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/04/2011

pdf

text

original

 
The Role of the Good Friend in the
Gandavyuha Sutra
Written for the Bodhi Journal Issue 14 (10/12/2009) – submitted toWong Weng Hon atwongwh49@streamyx.comafter 11/09/09Raymond Lam Theme: Buddhism and Self-cultivation
What is a Good Friend?
 The Japanese master Nichiren once gave a simile: if a tree is newlyplanted and held by a firm stake, even fierce winds will not be ableto topple it. But a tree that has grown up can still fall over if its rootsare weak. In the same way, a feeble person will not stumble if hersupporters are strong, but even a person of considerable strengthmight fall down on a deficient path if she attempts to make the journey alone (Nichiren, vol. 6, p. 109). This sums up how a good friend (
kalyanarmitra
) or spiritual friend isconceived of in Buddhism. Essentially, a good friend serves threepurposes: that of inspiration, teacher, and sustainer to the Dharma(Unno, 1998, p. 90). Of course, Buddhists do not hold a monopoly onhaving good friends. However, what is the difference between a“typical” good friend and a
kalyanarmitra
? Is the former inferior tothe latter? These two conceptions of friendship should not bedistinguished in terms of superiority or inferiority, but in terms of vision. In encountering a
kalyanarmitra
, a Buddhist has a particularorientation toward education, in encountering the transcendent
 
dimension that orients her to the existential dissatisfaction in thehuman condition. In the Buddhist tradition, this is
saṃsāra
. Therefore, the Buddhist conception of the good friend is different onthe basis of its vision and orientation in spiritual education.A good friend appears in the world in many forms – as a neighbour,a stranger, a holy person, or layman. A good friend can be someonewho introduces or embodies the teachings of the Buddha to thebenefit of others. A good friend is supportive of wholesomeendeavours and strives to be a foil for her companions. She bringsaffirmation and encouragement and is not afraid to urge someoneto improve in his character or moral practice. However, she is alsocharacterized by compassion and readily adjusts her teaching fordifferent people, understanding the diverse spectrum of inclinationsand capabilities. And of course, she opens up a “space” in which hercompanions feel welcome and able to express their true self.Calling someone a good friend indicates that care and nurture beenprovided. A good friend offers comfort and helpful, meaningfulknowledge. In the Buddhist mind, a good friend primarily providesspiritual care and sustenance, which is essential for growth in theDharma and persistence in practice. Traditionally, the Buddha is thesupreme good friend to all sentient beings, followed by the monksand venerables who teach the Dharma. However, there is one moreechelon at the conventional level, which is that of each person, all of who are capable of sustaining one another in the teachings. Several
 
Mahayana scriptures in the vast canon, in fact, acknowledge thatthe layman or laywoman can actually surpass monastics in spiritualcapabilities (see the
Vimalakirti Sutra
, Chapter Two).
The Concept of the Good Friend in the
Gandavyuha Sutra
One of the most important narratives concerning the good friend isin the
Gandavyuha Sutra
, which was incorporated into the vast
 Avatamsaka Sutra
as its thirty-first book. In this visually andlinguistically extravagant epic, a monk called Sudhana embarks on apilgrimage to see the cosmos reflected in a being called UniversalGood. Along the way, he encounters fifty-three spiritual teachers, orgood friends. In the conversation that takes place in the meetingbetween Sudhana and the future Buddha, Maitreya, Maitreya’swelcome is characteristic of a particularly authoritative good friend.He offers a hearty welcome, is hospitable, does not hold back insincere praise and encouragement, and reminds Sudhana of thetask he’s set out to do – the practice of supreme enlightenment.
 
Hepraises him as a “son of compassion and love, universally kind,” andurges him not to flag in practice. He continues:
Welcome, pure of heart, tireless in mind; / Welcome, buoyant insense; do not flag in practice.Having set out to contemplate all truths, guide all beings, / Andfollow all spiritual benefactors, / You are welcome, with your

Activity (4)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads
Soepay Lay liked this
chrisvicjones liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->