Noble Friends

“Noble friends are the whole of the holy life.”

Despite the frequency with which I bitch and moan about my job, I often step back and realize I am actually very lucky. I am paid, partly, to read about new topics, to learn. And at times, I get to read about things I’m already interested in. That’s the case right now, as I work on a the revised edition of a book I wrote about 8 years ago, Buddhist Faith in America. As I’ve mentioned from time to time here at C?WC?, I have a pretty longstanding – if not deep enough – interest in Buddhism. And during the  New Crisis, I’ve increasingly turned to the teachings about compassion, forgiveness, and impermanence to weather the emotional storm (of course, the Buddha would say there is no “I” to do any weathering, or get pelted by the storm in the first place, but that’s another story…).

Noble friends

Today I came across the quote that opens the post. As the story goes, Ananda,  the Enlightened One’s closest disciple, asked if it were true that noble friends are half of the holy life. And the Buddha replied with the words above.

Now, let’s get something straight: I am not pursuing a holy life, not as the Buddha would define it. I have not taken refuge in the Triple Gem or accepted the Five Precepts. I am not so good with following rules, even ones I know are good for me. But I do accept so many of the teachings. And as I’ve learned over and over these past few months, I have many noble, loving, giving friends.

Amen to that.

I guess it takes a crisis for us to remember that sometimes, or to give the friends the chance to step up and show what they are truly made of. In non-crisis mode, we are all so wrapped up in our work and families and daily stuff. We are, alas, too attached. But when the shit hits the fan, the friends put on their bodhisattva capes and zoom in to save the day.

I won’t name the names of all these great folks, but many of them, I know, will read this  blog or have already seen the quote after I posted it on Facebook. But I just don’t know if I can ever say it enough: thank you, thank you, thank you. And I hope all my friends, whether they read this or not, know I will do the same for them if crisis strikes. It might not be much, materially or emotionally, but it will be all I can do. And the crisis doesn’t have to be as mind bending and heart breaking as the IMD has been (but almost impending-no-more: two weeks to D-Day!). I’d like to think I would be there for the friends for even the smallest concerns (though I try to avoid shoveling driveways; see, I got this bad back, and when I’m out in the cold too long the Reynaud’s kicks up, and …).

The saddest thing, for so long during the New Crisis, was losing the friendship of the person I once cared about most: the Fex, of course. I always felt she was my best friend, though I admit at times when things got bad, I did not treat her the way anyone should treat a friend, Buddhist moral inclinations or no. Though I could certainly say the same about her. Then again, she never said I was her best friend, and I only told her that as things were breaking down. I assumed she already knew. Not that saying it earlier would have made a difference.

So, that best friend is gone, Now? She is someone I only have business dealings with: dissolve the marriage, sell the house, move on. And that seems so strange to say. But it is reality. It is a good example of the impermanence the Buddha preached about so often. But my other friendships, the ones that have sustained me during this – I think they will be around for awhile. Other things may change, but I have a feeling that will endure. A true “till death do us part.” And if I can offer one word of advice: Don’t be like me with the Fex. Don’t assume your loved ones, friends or family, know how much they mean to you. Let them know.

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~ by mburgan on January 13, 2011.

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