Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Make Good Friends in Faith

 Good friends in faith! 

Good Friends In Faith
A Collection of Quotes by Daisaku Ikeda

The way of Buddhism is profound, and its wisdom is difficult to fathom. No matter how wise or knowledgeable one may appear, the wisdom of common mortals is trifling by comparison. Therefore, to pursue the way to Buddhahood, we have no choice but to make a "good friend" in faith. If we do so, the power of such a good friend will enable us to pursue the correct course toward enlightenment without error. (12/12/87)

A good friend in faith means someone who encourages your Buddhist practice and guides you toward the path of enlightenment. The same applies to our own practice of faith. The Gohonzon is always the basis of our practice. Needless to say, carrying out our correct faith is what is most important. However, if you no longer have someone who can teach you faith and guide your practice correctly, or if you follow the wrong person, it will become difficult for you to forge on along the great path of faith toward enlightenment. A good friend is, as it were, an important support in completing your faith and practice. Therefore, the most important point in faith is what kind of people you have as friends. In this sense, I hope you deeply understand that there is profound meaning behind the existence of the Soka Gakkai, which teaches correct faith and is advancing together along the path of kosen-rufu.(3/1/88)

Naturally, the Mystic Law is the foundation of all things. However, without "good friends" who can lead us to the Gohonzon, practically speaking, it would be impossible to attain Buddhahood. Fellow members who sincerely encourage us and the organization for kosen-rufu that enables us to follow the path of correct faith are the good friends we need. All fellow members who sincerely practice faith are good friends to one another. Though there may be differences in members' organizational positions and length of time practicing, we are all equal before the Gohonzon. There is absolutely no discrimination in the world of faith. Good friends are people who, in their respective capacities, encourage and pray for the development of one another. While traveling hand in hand along the path of eternal happiness, they invite others to join them so that they, too, may receive immeasurable benefit. Let us truly become such good friends to each other. (5/24/89)

The Nirvana Sutra states that even if we are killed by "evil elephants"—which in modern terms would correspond to automobiles, tanks, etc.—our bodies may he destroyed, but our minds will remain intact. However, if evil friends lead to our undoing, destroying both mind and body, we will fall into Hell. Therefore, we must above all fear falling under the influence of evil friends, and we should identify those who are crooked of heart and ward them off. Such persons appear as friends but function to destroy faith. Through the clever use of words, they try to persuade people to abandon their Buddhist practice. This is the nature of evil friends. Such bad friends are the greatest enemy of one's happiness and the greatest impediment to one's attaining Buddhahood.(6/18/91)

Good friends are those who encourage us in faith, strive with us to strengthen practice and study and work with us in harmony to advance kosen-rufu. The Soka Gakkai is the fore-most gathering of good friends. (6/18/91)

Good friends base themselves on the law. Therefore, we base ourselves on the Gohonzon and on the Gosho. Evil friends are self-centered and egoistic. For these reasons, such people will speak and act differently, depending on the situation. As the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho make clear, it is only natural that the further kosen-rufu advances in any country; the more numerous will be the evil friends who appear. By seeing through the disguises of such individuals and defeating them, you will be able to open up a vast, cheerful, sunny green field of happiness for all members. (6/18/91)

Good friends in faith essentially are sincere, honest people without a trace of deceit who guide others toward the correct path, toward good. They are also people who lend their assistance or support to us so that we can practice the True Law with assurance. If you become close to a person who makes you feel "that person is always glowing and animated" or "when I'm with that person I feel strong and secure;' then your faith will naturally deepen and you will develop bountiful wisdom. In carrying out this Buddhist practice, encountering good friends is the key to achieving Buddhahood.(7/28/91)

Our lives are determined by the relationships we form. And the SGI is a cluster of relationships of the very best kind. In a society pervaded with cruel relationships, where many people delight in others' misfortunes, we find the greatest solidarity and peace of mind with our fellow members. We have to resolutely protect the noble gathering of SGI members. (8/21/96)


Some practical ideas on how to cultivate good friends in faith:

Good friends in Faith are eternal treasures of the heart. And the beauty of it all is this: If you don't have good friends in faith you can chant to have them. Put "make friends with people who inspire me and encourage me in my practice" on your list and take action to make it happen. Look for people who inspire you. Take the opportunity to chat with them. Take some time after SGI meetings to get to know people, and get there early if you can. Ask if you can help out. 
If you see a person give an experience that inspires you, reach out to them and express your appreciation. Set up a time to chant with them. 

Let me illustrate through a story. 

Years ago I saw a woman give her experience at New Year's Gongyo. She was on fire with Daimoku. She had overcome cancer that year and looked younger than she did when I first met her many years before. I was inspired! I made a goal to rekindle our friendship. Over the next few months I saw her at meetings, and asked her to join me for coffee after a meeting. Then we started getting together to chant. I really listened to what she had to say. This blog was born from that friendship. She and I decided to chant two hours a day together, and this blog was born from that Daimoku campaign. My goal was to overcome my life-long depression and I wanted to use life to inspire others to chant and join the SGI. As many of you know I have overcome that depression. And if I can do that - YOU can do anything! 

Some other tips for making friends: "To have a good friend, you must be one." Give people a chance. Don't be so quick to criticize. And don't talk behind people's backs. Chant to be able to see good friends. And take time to call or chant with them. Encourage others to the best of your ability. Be open to being a friend!

I'm hearing from many of you who are going to their first SGI meetings, and making determinations to strengthen you practices within this remarkable organization. I look forward to posting your experiences as we inspire each other. 

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