Right Friendship

When I started a regular meditation practice my social time was reduced considerably both by the 2 hours I was meditating in my free time, and by the reduction of events I was attending while attempting to follow my precepts. This reduced priority on relationships was always concerning to me at first. It seemed like the only thing that really mattered in life were people and the experiences we shared, so why was I cutting this out of my life?Actually, the fail-safe strategy to meet new people is to bond over intoxicants or mutual frustrations.  Strangely, I seemed to appreciate the safety of bonding over misery, rather than spending my energy escaping from misery.

So then I committed to Vipassana and my social time cut way back. I had a few meditator friends, but those few people were already established meditators, and this practice seems so personal sometimes that it’s hard to bond over. I would attend a group sitting, we would sit, then we would go home without ever getting to know each other. So where does friendship fit in? What is a friend?

This idea of Right Friendship popped into my head when thinking about the precepts. Just like, “I will abstain from killing,” could a friend be anyone who helps me abstain from negative actions? Slowly, as I build the vibrations of positivity in my life, I’m finding more and more people who support my way of life, along with more people who appreciate my supporting they’re way of life. While I don’t feel I have an abundance of social time in my life, maybe the amount and quality of that time will slowly increase as I grow in my practice. Maybe, once again, patience is the key. Time to meditate.

5 thoughts on “Right Friendship

  1. John

    Ryan. AS someone who has also completed a few 10-day courses, I have a lot of respect for you to keep up the practice for so long. I understand where you’re coming from with regard to not wanting to be around other people who may be a negative influence on your vows. But can’t you still be at a party socializing, without breaking the precepts, or is it too much temptation? It seems a shame that you should forsake friends for meditation, though I understand your wish for friends who share a certain view on life. This idea that, maybe, if you practice more, you will develop more of a social life seems too much based on hope- and we know that hope is damaging. there is only now. hope is based on the future and stems from our thoughts. I can remember my own experience after leaving vipassana, struggling to maintain the practice and at the same time struggling to maintain friendships with people who were doing things which i no longer wanted to do. But the point is… There should be NO STRUGGLE! We can simply wake up at any moment, if we are ready and there is no ritual or discipline or hardship required. We should enjoy our lives, live freely as to our own intuition and be strong in our self- not victims of temptation and retreat. Boldly we shall lead the way!

  2. Tom Whitemore

    I totally agree with Ryan.
    I am finding the more I practice, the more clarity I have about what is important.
    ‘Right friendships’ are so important, with them they help me appreciate those people I encounter at work who have different priorities and lifestyles to mine, rather than develop aversion or judge and get all self righteous in my head.

  3. anonymous

    So well said! I hope that I can continue to meet my friends with even MORE joy and compassion, rather than having to avoid them altogether. otherwise, how would i encourage them to join me on the path? 🙂 Thanks John!

  4. Ryan Shelton

    Hi John, Thanks for your comment. I think you make some great points. I certainly don’t have the answers. I can only express the choices I’ve made and how they’ve worked out form me. You’ve given me some food for thought, possibly for a future post… 🙂

  5. for a while we may get away from old social groups. once we practise regularly and become strong from within, we are not influenced by others, and able to politely tell other and influence on your way of living. Then we don’t hesitate to back to old social groups. We are like lotus and the water in which it grows, does not touch it. Meditation will make us strong from within and become like lotus.

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