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Lions Roar : May 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2012 71 Mahayana, the vehicle of the bodhisattva path. He or she becomes the kalyanamitra, a Sanskrit word meaning “spiritual friend,” or “friend in the virtue.” The kalyanamitra is less heavy-handed than the elder or parent, but on the other hand, he is more heavy-handed. He is like a rich uncle who provides money for the family. However, he doesn’t want them to just lounge around and live off his money. The rich uncle would like to be more constructive than that; he would like to have industrious relatives, so that he can increase his capital. Unlike a rich uncle in ordinary life, the bodhisattva’s approach, the Mahayana approach, is not based on self-aggrandizement. It isn’t self-centered. It is a much closer relation- ship. The teacher has become a spiritual friend. When relatives give us advice, we have a certain attitude toward their advice: we know that we are being told the relative truth. It has some value, it has some application, but it is still rela- tive truth. When friends give us advice, its effect is more immediate and per- sonal. If we are criticized by our parents, we think it’s their trip, or we think some- thing is wrong with their approach, so we take it lightly. But if we are criticized by our friends, we feel startled. We begin to think there may be some element of truth in what they are saying. So in the Mahayana, the teacher is a spiritual friend. He or she is much more demanding than the purely relative level. The spiritual friend makes us much more watchful and conscientious. At that point, relative truth has already become somewhat old hat: we already know about pain, the origin of pain, cessation, and the path, the four noble truths. At this point, the spiritual friend tells us, “Don’t just work on yourself. Do something about others. Relate with your projections rather than with the pro- jector alone. Do something about the world outside and try to develop some sense of sympathy and warmth in yourself.” That is usually quite hard for us to do. We are already upset and uptight and SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. Be Inspired Be Inspired Beautiful Archival Quality Prints Choose from among our collection of dharma art. These prints are taken from the pages of the magazines and include works by well-known teachers, artists and contributors, such as Thich Nhat Hanh, and Kaz Tanahashi. Visit the Shambhala Sun Online Store www.shambhalasun.com Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva, The Nelson Atkins Museum SALE! Enjoy savings of up to 35% on our collection of dharma art