This week Leigh Smith, together with Vessantara, Nagavira and Padmapriya held his Kalyanamitra Ceremony in his community in Cambridge. His South American friends had put together a lovely shrine blending both Buddhists and Aztec flavours.
Vessantara, who, all being well, will also be Leigh’s Private Preceptor when he becomes ordained was the Celebrant and facilitated the short but meaningful ceremony.
The Buddhist tradition puts some emphasis on strong bonds of friendship between mentors and aspirants whether it is the Master/Pupil relationship of Chan/Zen Buddhism, the Guru/Chela relationship of Tibetan Buddhism or the Teacher/Disciple relationship of the Theravada etc. The Triratna continue and possibly exemplify this aspect of the spiritual life.
Buddhadharma, is a life long practise and having strong friends for support, encouragement and guidance is almost essential. Without them it is all too easy to loose direction, settle down or even leave the spiritual life altogether.
We are told the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, did himself stress the importance of such friendships. Indeed he is often quoted as saying that spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life.
The Dharma is ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ that is to say that just reading books is not enough. To catch the Dharma you need to spend time with other Dharma practitioners, it is, in the end, the most effective way to bring about transformation, to live a healthy happy and enjoyable life.
Sadhu (well done) to Leigh.