The Importance of Friends in the Dharma
(Reverend Marvin Harada)
Once, Ananda, the Buddha's disciple and personal attendant, asked the Buddha whether association with good friends was of value in pursuing the Way. Sakyamuni replied, "Ananda, association with good friends is the whole Way.
From this passage we can see that the Buddha considered having good friends as the most important thing in following the path of Buddhism. I was struck by reading this from the book, "The Disciples of the Buddha," which goes into the biographies of some of the Buddha's closest disciples.
Rev. Harada goes on to explain how his friendships that developed through the temple, studying Buddhism in Japan, and during his service as a minister, has guided him along the path of the Buddha-Dharma. Rev. Harada expressed, "When Shakyamuni Buddha told Ananda, that "association with good friends is the whole way," that message was true over 2600 years ago and it is true for us today. Whether we have been a Buddhist and a temple member for 60 years or for only 6 months, association with good friends is the whole way. The important thing is to have friends, or a friend, with whom you can share and discuss the Dharma. Together you can take classes in our BEC program, attend services together, eat together at one of our many luncheons, or socialize together even outside of temple activities."
All the more, that is why it is important for us to continue reaching out to our Dharma friends that have difficulties coming to the temple. Our "super" Seniors are important to our temple community. I am extremely grateful that we are able to touch base with them and offer them the care packages. I was fortunate to speak to a few of our Seniors over the telephone and it was very uplifting to hear their voices and how they were doing.
Let's cherish our friendships.