Lesson
6

Everyone As a Friend

1 of 4

Step 2 — Recognizing Friends

How should we view sentient beings? Should we consider them to be enemies, friends, or neutral persons? One popular early-twentieth-century Tibetan lama, Pa-bong-ka, gave a provocative answer: If your close friend became crazed and attacked you with a knife, you would attempt to relieve him of the knife and get his mind back in its natural state; you would use the appropriate means to take the knife, but you wouldn't then kick him in the head. Once there's a profoundly close relationship, the close relationship predominates. Why is your friend turning against you and attacking you? It's due to a counterproductive attitude—a distortion—in the person's mind.

If you felt that everyone in the universe was in the same relationship to you as your very best friend, and if you saw anyone who attacked you as your best friend gone mad, how would you respond? Would you respond with hatred?

You would not seek to retaliate and harm the person out of hatred. He would be too dear to you.

Therefore, in teaching compassion, Buddhists do not choose a neutral person as the example of all sentient beings; they choose the strongest of all examples, your best friend. Your feeling for that person is the feeling you should ideally have for every sentient being. You cannot go up to the police officer on the corner and hug her. But you can inwardly value her, as well as all sentient beings, as your best friend.