Here Ringu Tulku discusses friendship within organisations of people.
It’s a short but important talk: not just relevant for those involved in Buddhist groups; but relevant wisdom for us all in life.
He references the Buddha’s guidance for people who wanted to train to be like the Arya Sangha.
The most important thing is to have the same clear vision: a right motivation with a clear understanding of the objective to be achieved, all working towards a shared goal. If that is not clear, the organisation is unlikely to work.
But it needn’t exclusively mean joining a formal group.
Each person plays a role in the team, like the crew of a ship. We are co-travellers from lifetime to lifetime. So respect for each other is important. As is how we see our fellow crew members. We should treat others with respect.
Harmony comes from all observing the same precepts: not to harm, lie, steal or misbehave; essentially living and interacting with discipline.
We each have to take responsibility for our own contributing behaviour (reducing our selfishness, aversion and attachment) on the path towards achieving the goal to bring peace, harmony and freedom from suffering. We cannot achieve our goals without the help of others, and our interactions. We cannot interfere too much, but we can help.
Most problems arise from not finding “the middle way” between the extremes of: taking our role too seriously, thereby making it difficult for others to help us; and criticising others, imposing our ideas and values onto others- subsequently alienating them!
So, a sharing, open balance is vital between co-operation and interference!
Friendship is similar.
We cannot get a friend, we become a friend through sharing, being helpful, being trustworthy and wishing others well. It is not about doing something together (having a shared hobby) or not. It is about being trustworthy and being ready to give help and care.
Photograph by Conrad Harvey.