Mahayana scriptures in the vast canon, in fact, acknowledge thatthe layman or laywoman can actually surpass monastics in spiritualcapabilities (see the
, Chapter Two).
The Concept of the Good Friend in the
One of the most important narratives concerning the good friend isin the
, which was incorporated into the vast
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