Spiritual Friend

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I would like to say one thing: it is also related to the Buddha’s teachings. Some of you have been calling me Master. Actually in the Dhamma, in the Pali tradition, the word teacher is not used. Two beautiful words are used: spiritual friend. This is how I would like to see myself, as a spiritual friend. And it’s a very beautiful relationship to have. When you say you are the Master, then again a big division between the Master and the student, but when we are spiritual friends then we are exploring together, investigating together, learning together, sharing with each other, it’s a beautiful way to relate to each other.

And then there’s another danger I would like to also warn you about. With the Master you just accept whatever the Master says. You accept him as an authority. There is no place for such authority in the Buddhist teaching.

I would like to conclude by quoting from a very well known Buddhist text. A group of spiritual people called the Kalamas who were exposed to different teachers came to the Buddha and said: We are confused, so many teachers are saying so many different things. What should we do? Please help us.

The Buddha said something very radical at that time. He told this group of people: Don’t accept anything just because it is in the traditions. Don’t accept anything just because it is in the scriptures. Don’t accept anything just because it is logical, reasonable, rational. Don’t accept anything just because a teacher tells you, but accept only when you know in your own experience what is conducive to happiness, what is creating suffering and what can help you to overcome suffering. When you know that in your own experience, then accept that experience. What a statement to make! Experience is your teacher. Life is the best teacher you can have!