At a Buddhist discussion meeting last week (I’m part of the SGI, and follow Nichiren Buddhism), I came across the concept of ‘true friends’ versus ‘true enemies’.
Simply put, a true friend is one that takes you deeper into your spiritual practice, and a true enemy is one that takes you away from it. So, for instance, my toxic marriage was not an enemy at all, as contradictory as it sounds. It was a ‘true friend’ going by this definition, since it led me to spirituality, to Buddhism and deeper inside myself for answers.
Similarly, an all-expense paid holiday to Canada last month, and Kenya the month before that, are not necessarily ‘good friends’. I didn’t pray a single day while I was there!!! 🙂
This concept has really changed the way I look at situations now. Today, the driver didn’t turn up on time, and I was all ready for work with one foot out the door when I was given this news. Instead of grumbling about it, I decided to use my time constructively and chant nam myoho renge kyo in front of the Gohonzon for a few minutes until he came. While doing so, it struck me: “Hmm, his turning up late was a ‘true friend’ sort of incident. It led me toward my practice.” And voila, I wasn’t upset with him at all, even if I did get a few minutes late.
Similarly, a fellow member in the practice told me about her difficult job situation. “It’s a true friend,” I reminded her. “It is leading you back to your prayer, forcing you to challenge your own mindset and strengthen your faith.” And when another member told me about her difficult sister-in-law who keeps hanging around her house all the time, I said the same thing: “See her as a ‘true friend’, who is forcing you towards your Buddhist practice and helping you develop love and compassion.” Almost any challenging life situation now strikes me as a ‘true friend’. It’s a whole new way of seeing things.
Thanks, God. You’re a true friend, indeed, hehe. 🙂