Interviews and Media | Thubten Chodron http://thubtenchodron.org The Thubten Chodron Teaching Archive Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:20:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interview with Interfaith Voices http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/06/becoming-a-buddhist-nun/ Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:28:47 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=72980

  • The purpose of spiritual practice
  • Meeting Buddhism and deciding to become a nun
  • The precepts are ways to train our mind in virtue
  • Daily life for the spiritual community at Sravasti Abbey
  • Working on the book with the Dalai Lama and his skillfulness as a teacher
  • The ordination of women
  • Prison work and how the Dharma has transformed inmates
  • The process of becoming ordained at Sravasti Abbey
  • The difference between novice and full ordination

Interview with Sister Maureen Fielder (download)

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Kindness vitamins: An interview http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/06/practice-transforms/ Thu, 02 Jun 2016 13:11:00 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=72065

  • Why Venerable Chodron ordained as a Buddhist nun
  • How to practice in daily life
  • What mindfulness means
  • The importance of having a spiritual mentor and a spiritual tradition
  • Listening to your inner wisdom

YouTube Video

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Нам нужно помнить, что мы умрем http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/05/%d0%bf%d0%be%d0%bc%d0%bd%d0%b8%d1%82%d1%8c-%d1%81%d0%bc%d0%b5%d1%80%d1%82%d1%8c/ Tue, 10 May 2016 02:26:16 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=73940

Джули Рельстед: Учения досточтимой Тубтен Чодрон в Пхенделинге позволили нам кратко увидеть её впечатляющие познания – относящиеся не только к буддизму, но и тому, как мы, жители Запада, можем научиться интегрировать буддизм в свою жизнь. Что еще важнее, утверждает она, мы должны помнить, что умрем.

Retreatants with Venerable Chodron at the Phendeling Centre teaching.

Досточтимая Чодрон с участниками ретрита в центре Пхенделинг (фото – Phendeling Center for Tibetansk Buddhisme)

Что вы думаете по поводу того, что западным людям сложно интегрировать буддизм со своей повседневной жизнью? Каковы с вашей точки зрения проблемы и решения?

Люди часто говорят, что их главная проблема – отсутствие достаточного количества времени, но в сутках всегда 24 часа, так что вопрос скорее в приоритетах и том, как мы распределяем своё время.

У нас всегда находится время поболтать с друзьями, поблуждать в интернете; есть время на просмотр спортивных игр. На подобные вещи время у нас есть – но когда речь заходит о регулярной ежедневной практике, время кончается.

Не думаю, что это вопрос времени; мне кажется, дело в приоритетах. Когда вы расставляете свои приоритеты, а Дхарма оказывается из них главным, именно ей вы и занимаетесь – вместо того, чтобы вечерами выбираться в свет, а утром чувствовать слишком большую усталость, чтобы встать. Вместо всего этого вы пораньше ложитесь. Вы приносите в жертву телепередачи, жертвуете тусовками с друзьями и рано встаете, чтобы позаниматься практикой.

Есть ли у вас какие-либо соображения по поводу того, почему нам так сложно четко расставить приоритеты?

Потому что люди не помнят, что умрут – они думают, что будут жить вечно, а когда думаешь, что будешь жить вечно, то у тебя полно времени и Дхарму всегда можно будет попрактиковать завтра (ведь сегодня ты очень занят!). Когда у нас действительно присутствует чувство того, что жизнь коротка, что обрести эту жизнь и создать карму для обретения драгоценной человеческой жизни было очень сложно, что эта жизнь редка и драгоценна и не особо продолжительна, становится гораздо проще расставить свои приоритеты. Когда же мы этих вещей не помним, наши приоритеты часто таковы: “Как бы испытать удовольствие? Как бы заполучить деньги и статус?”.

В Пхенделинге люди практикуют буддизм на множестве различных уровней. Для тех из нас, кто амбициозен, но все равно хочет жить со своей семьей и так далее: какими должны быть наши цели?

Думаю, если человек практикует Дхарму, цели у всех должны быть одинаковыми. Существуют два значимых пункта: (1) стараться достичь высокого перерождения и (2) стремиться к высочайшему благу, то есть полному пробуждению. Таковы цели всех практикующих Дхарму. Цели одинаковы независимо от того, миряне вы или монахи(ни). Наша долгосрочная цель – полное пробуждения, но чтобы до неё дойти, нам необходимо множество хороших перерождений.

Вы уже много лет являетесь монахиней. Не могли бы вы рассказать нам немного о своих самых больших радостях и самых больших вызовах?

Люди задавали мне этого вопрос прежде, и мне, думаю, это не нравится. Я не размышляю над тем, каковы мои величайшие радости и величайшие вызовы; этот образ мышления мне не кажется особо полезным. Гораздо полезнее, как я вижу, просто заниматься своей практикой. Если вы думаете о радостях, то цепляетесь за наличие неких потрясающих переживаний; если думаете о вызовах, то сосредотачиваетесь на всех препятствиях: “А продвинусь ли я вообще куда-либо?”.

Ни одна из этих вещей особо практике Дхармы не способствует. Лучше просто заниматься практикой. Создавайте причины, ждите плодов – а результаты проявятся, когда будут готовы.

Мой последний вопрос таков: хотели бы вы, чтобы я вас о чем-нибудь спросила?

Да! Думаю, чрезвычайно важно изучать и знать, что такое Дхарма, потому что по мере прихода буддизма на Запад появляются всевозможные люди, считающие, что они понимают Дхарму, но при этом особо её не изучавшие и не обладающие её качественным пониманием. Они начинают объяснять Дхарму другим в соответствии со своими мыслями и мнениями – а это очень опасно, потому что тогда освобождающая Дхарма теряется, а вместо неё остаются мнения людей, не являющихся продвинутыми практикующими.

Важно не выбрасывать вещи просто потому, что они не согласуются с нашими идеями; ведь если мы начинаем говорить: “Будда не учил тому-то и тому-то, потому что это вещи старомодные”, то, по сути, утверждаем, что мы умнее Будды и знаем путь лучше, чем Будда. Поэтому нам нужно проверять: обладаем ли мы просветлением? Если мы не просветленные, лучше следовать путем того, кто просветлен, а не выдумывать свой собственный.

Нам нужно различать то, что является культурой, и то, что является Дхармой. Мы можем менять вещи, относящиеся  к культуре, но нам действительно нужно знать, что является Дхармой; в противном случае мы сочтем определенные аспекты учений культурой, хотя они ей и не являются.

Поэтому нам нужно упорно трудиться над развитием своего дхармического интеллекта, своей искренности, открытости своего ума, своей способности действительно размышлять над вещами, а не просто зависеть от того, что говорит кто-то иной. Нам нужно развивать качества хорошего ученика.

Исходное интервью: Vi skal huske, at vi skal dø

Версия на английском языке: We need to remember that we are going to die

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We need to remember that we are going to die http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/05/remember-death/ Tue, 10 May 2016 02:26:03 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=69420

Julie Relsted: Venerable Thubten Chodron’s teachings in Phendeling gave us brief insights into her impressive knowledge, not only of Buddhism, but also of how we Westerners can learn to integrate Buddhism into our lives. Most importantly, she says, we must remember that we are going to die.

Retreatants with Venerable Chodron at the Phendeling Centre teaching.

Venerable Chodron with retreatants at Phendeling Center. (Photo courtesy of Phendeling Center for Tibetansk Buddhisme)

What are your considerations concerning Western people’s trouble integrating Buddhism into their everyday life? What are the problems and the solutions from your point of view?

Often people say their main problem is that they don’t have enough time, but there are always 24 hours in a day, so it’s more a question of priorities and how we choose to allocate our time.

We always have time to chat with our friends, we have time to surf the Internet, we have time to watch sports games. We have time to do all sorts of things like that, but we run out of time when it comes to having a regular daily practice.

So I don’t think it’s a time issue. I think it’s a priority issue. When you set your priorities and if Dharma is really your top priority, then you do that instead of going out at night and being too tired in the morning to get up. Instead, you go to bed early. You sacrifice your TV shows, you sacrifice going out with your friends and get up early to do your practice.

 Do you have any suggestions as to why it is so difficult for us to get our priorities straight?

Because people don’t remember that they are going to die. They think that they are going to live forever. And when you think that you are going to live forever, you have lots of time and you think can always practice Dharma tomorrow, because today you are too busy. When we really have the feeling that our life is short, that it was very difficult to have this life, to create the karma to get a precious human life, that this life is rare and precious and it doesn’t last that long, then it becomes much easier to set our priorities. But when we don’t remember that our priorities are often, how can I have pleasure, how can I get money and status?

In Phendeling people practice Buddhism in many different levels. Those of us who are ambitious, but still want to live with our family and so on: What should be our goals?

I think the goals should be the same for everybody if you are a Dharma practitioner. There are two major things: to try to have a higher rebirth, and to aim for the highest good, meaning full awakening. Those are the goals of all Dharma practitioners. The goals are the same whether you are a layperson or a monastic. Our long-term goal is full awakening, but we need many good rebirths in order to get there.

You have been a nun for many years: Can you tell us a little bit about your greatest joys and greatest challenges?

People have asked me that question before and I don’t think like that. I don’t think about what are my greatest joys and what are my greatest challenges. I don’t find that way of thinking very helpful. I find it much more helpful just to do my practice. If you think of joys then you cling to having some fantastic experience. If you think of challenges, then you will focus on all the obstacles: “How will I ever get anywhere?”

Neither of those ways is very conducive for practicing the Dharma. It’s better to just do the practice. Create the causes, wait for the results, and the results will come, when they are ready.

My last question is to ask you if there is something you would like me to ask you? 

Yes! I think it is extremely important to study and know what Dharma is. Because with Buddhism coming to the West, there are all sorts of people who think they understand the Dharma, but they haven’t studied it much and they don’t understand it well. Then they start explaining it to others in accordance with what they think and what their opinions are, and that’s very dangerous, because then you lose the liberating Dharma and what you get instead is the opinions of people who are not advanced practitioners.

It is important to not just throw things out because they don’t agree with our ideas. Because if we start saying; “The Buddha didn’t teach this or that because it is old-fashioned” then we are basically saying that we are smarter than the Buddha and that we know the path better than the Buddha. So we have to check: Are we enlightened or not? If we are not enlightened, it’s better to follow the path of an enlightened human being rather than making up your own path.

We have to distinguish between what is culture and what is the Dharma. We can change the cultural things, but we have to really know what the Dharma is. Otherwise we think that certain aspects of the teachings are culture, when they are not.

So we have to work really hard to develop our Dharma intelligence, our sincerity, our open-mindedness, our ability to really think through things and not just depend on believing what somebody else says. We have to develop the quality of a good student.

Original interview: Vi skal huske, at vi skal dø

This article is available in Russian: Нам нужно помнить, что мы умрем

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Interview with Tibetan Center Hamburg Magazine http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/04/becoming-buddhist-nun/ Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:52:13 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=68877

  • Meeting the Dharma and becoming a nun
  • The difficulties of being a Buddhist nun in the west
  • Seeing the precepts as protection rather than repressive
  • Advice for those who are considering ordination
  • The disadvantages of using social media

Interview with Tibetan Center Hamburg Magazine (download)

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Comrades in alms http://thubtenchodron.org/2016/02/monastic-gathering/ Fri, 26 Feb 2016 20:54:00 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=68000 Tricycle Magazine interviews Venerable Thubten Chodron about the challenges and joys of being a monk or nun in America.]]>

Can traditional forms of Buddhist monasticism—which include vows of celibacy and the renunciation of worldly pursuits—flourish in a culture that’s saturated by an opposing set of values?

In October 2015, over 30 Buddhist monastics met to discuss the ways their training can serve the modern, Western mindset. The 21st Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering, held at Sravasti Abbey in northeastern Washington, brought together monastics from numerous traditions to collaborate, practice, and support one another. The theme of this year’s meeting was “The Challenges and Joys of Monastic Life.”

Portrait of Venerable Chodron

Venerable Chodron, founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey

Venerable Thubten Chodron, who is the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey, recently spoke with Tricycle’s editorial assistant, Marie Scarles, about the gathering and her experiences as a Buddhist nun.

Can you tell me a little bit about the history of the Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering?

It was started 21 years ago by a Tibetan nun in the Bay Area. As the years went on, more people came and more groups were invited—it wound up becoming a really wonderful event. We see it as a gathering of friends who have a common purpose and common values. It gives us a chance to meet with people who are like us, people who really understand and appreciate the monastic way of life.

As far as I know, there’s no analogous meeting that is held in Asia or within one Asian country. What are the particular conditions of the U.S. or of the West that have led to the necessity and interest in having a gathering like this?

In Asia this hasn’t happened because people don’t speak the same language. Here we all speak English so we’ve been able to learn from one another, to see the commonalities in Buddhist traditions and to acknowledge the differences. It’s given us a chance to discuss how to set up a monastery in the West so it’s compatible with Western culture but still a Buddhist monastery. We can discuss the kinds of issues that come up in a community and how to handle them.

Also, because there are so many different Buddhist groups in the U.S., this gathering is a chance to hear about one another’s traditions. Rather than hearing things second-hand and passing down rumors and stereotypes, it’s better to meet and become friends. We have so much in common as monastics. In European countries and Australia it’s similar, because you have so many traditions together in one space. By comparison, in a country like Thailand, almost everybody is Theravada. They have their own systems and their own groups. Each group within the Theravada tradition in Thailand is going to get together with other people in their own group. The same happens in India with Tibetan Buddhists. The West is a place where people reach out and meet people who are different.

Is there a difference between the way monastics are regarded here versus the way they’re viewed in Asia?

For sure. In Asia, if you go and live in a Buddhist community, it’s a totally different ball game than living as a monastic here in the West. If you’re in a country where there is a huge Buddhist community, people understand something about your life as a monastic. When you’re living here in America you go out and you get all sorts of interesting responses. People have no idea what you are!

I can imagine! Westerners are not particularly accustomed to shaved heads and orange robes. How do you think this affects the way people relate to you?

I’ve heard some people say, “Oh, it creates a distance with other people.” But my experience is that it creates a bond with other people. I’ve always worn my robes in town; I’m always clearly identifiable. When they see us in public, people have some kind of need or curiosity or admiration, and so they reach out. I have people come up to me and say, “Do you know the Dalai Lama? Are you a Buddhist?” You find this kind of thing, especially now that His Holiness is well known in America. Some people will say it in a more tactful way, like, “What are you?” When I tell them, they say with appreciation, “Oh, I knew you were some kind of religious person.”

I’ve had people ask me about rebirth and if I could please explain it. One guy on an airplane unburdened what was in his heart to me. I guess I was a safe person!

I have some amusing stories to tell, too. [Laughs.] One time—actually, this has happened more than once—a woman came up to me and very kindly and compassionately put her hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay, dear. When the chemo’s over, your hair will grow back.” They say it with so much kindness that I just respond, “Oh, thank you very much.” If I’m not running off somewhere I’ll say, “Oh, fortunately, you know, I’m doing this by choice. I’m a Buddhist monastic.” People don’t know what you are, but they’re curious and they’re interested. I find that when you explain things to them, they understand and they get it. They understand why somebody might want to be a monastic and the special things that we do or don’t do.

The thing that I find most disturbing is, at times, the response from Western lay Buddhists. Lay Buddhists in Asia love the monastics and respect what we’re trying to do. But Western lay Buddhists often rely on old stereotypes and don’t understand what monastic life is and what it’s about. That is more disturbing to me personally than general people in society who have no clue what Buddhism or monasticism is.

Related: Tricycle Retreat with Thubten Chodron: Recognizing and Transforming Jealously and Envy

What are some of the stereotypes of Western monastics?

Sometimes, you hear people say, “Monastic life is old-fashioned. We don’t need it now. It’s no longer relevant.” Or they’ll say, “Oh! You’re celibate? Are you repressing your sexuality and denying feelings for intimacy?” Or, “Oh, you’re ordaining. Aren’t you escaping from reality?” It’s jarring, especially when it’s lay Buddhists in the West saying these kinds of things.

What are some of the difficulties of being ordained in a cultural climate that is not monastic-friendly?

The values of our American culture and the West, in general, are aimed toward the idea that happiness comes through the five senses. We’re called desire-realm beings for a reason. Our minds are perpetually distracted outwards toward and looking for pleasure from sense objects. That doesn’t simply mean nice things to see and smell—it also means reputation and status and love, approval and praise, all of these things that come from the outside. The whole image of a successful life in America is based on external things: having money, being famous, having good relationships with your family, and maybe being artistic. Whatever field you’re in, everybody wants to be the best and they want to be known as the best. So the world vision of a successful, happy life is very different than a monastic’s vision of a successful, happy life.

Do you think some of these pressures are unique to the U.S., as opposed to the rest of the world?

Being attached to external things is universal to living beings. We all have the same afflictions; it doesn’t really matter what society you’re in. Society will influence exactly how it looks on the outside.

Another topic you discussed at the gathering was the cultural difference between Western monastics and your Asian teachers and supporters. What were some of the issues raised?

The first one that comes to mind is the role of women and nuns in particular. There’s a cultural difference in how people feel about this. I don’t think that Buddhism itself ignores women. Rather, it’s the cultures that Buddhism has traditionally been in—just like the cultures that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have traditionally been in. All those cultures across the board tend to neglect women.

I see this much more as a cultural thing, not so much as something that is solidified in the teachings themselves. I know you can point to passages in Buddhist scriptures that would support the opposite—you can do that in any religion. But my personal feeling is that the obstacles to change are not the few passages in the scriptures, they’re the cultures that the dharma is embedded in.

And it’s not like American culture is gender equal, either. I’ve had some interesting experiences, in that regard, where you would think that people would be more aware of gender equality in the West, and they aren’t at all. The first one that comes to mind is whenever I get a letter from someone who doesn’t know me personally. It’s usually addressed “Dear Sir.” They assume that if you’re the leader of a monastery, you must be a monk. This happens in the West.

Related: Gender Revisited: Are We There Yet?

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes! The joy of being a monastic and that Buddhist monasticism is something important. Not that everybody has to be a monastic—that’s their individual choice. But monasticism is an important element of the dharma and to the existence of the dharma in the West. Whether or not people are ordained, I think it’s important to have an understanding of what monastic life is—why somebody would become a monastic, what our role is, the importance of monasticism in preserving and spreading the dharma, as well as ways that the lay community and the monastic community can cooperate and learn from each other.

I think that there really needs to be broader education about monks and nuns and monasteries and things like that so that there can be better relationships and more understanding.

If you’re someone who is suited for monastic life, this lifestyle can be very joyful. You have a real sense of purpose and meaning in your life. There’s a special feeling of closeness to the Three Jewels [the Buddha, dharma, and sangha], and you can be more transparent as a human being without having to play a lot of games. You have dedicated your life to the dharma and to benefiting others; that intention steers you in a wonderful direction. Of course there are the challenges of working with our ignorance, anger, attachment, and self-centeredness and cultivating love, compassion, and wisdom, but as you see yourself and those around you change, there’s a lot of satisfaction.

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Life is like sowing seeds http://thubtenchodron.org/2015/12/efforts-reality/ Wed, 16 Dec 2015 19:23:22 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=65754 The Times of India at a talk organized by the Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre in Bengaluru, India.]]>

Newly sprouted seeds.

Life is like sprinkling seeds. (Photo by –Tico–)

“Life is like sprinkling seeds. You don’t know which ones will blossom into beautiful flowers, as their growth depends on factors like soil and water. That’s beyond one’s control.”

Succinct and profound, the words of Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron effectively summed up the dichotomy between human efforts and reality.

A Chicago-born history teacher who got ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1975, Chodron is popular for her practical explanations on applying Buddhist teachings in daily life. In Bengaluru on Tuesday, she spoke on `dealing with situations when they fall apart’.

At the talk organized by The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre, Chodron, 65, shared instances from her own life.” Over 18 years ago, I had a student who had potential and I was trying to help him learn more. My other students organized a party on my birthday and this particular student didn’t show up. Instead, he sent me a letter that shocked me. He said ‘he is stepping back, doesn’t want to attend classes and wants to think for himself’. This message hit me like the tsunami. It made me lose confidence as a teacher. But I learnt a lesson—that I cannot control anyone else. We see potential in people but they may not see it themselves. When you encourage them, they think you are pushing them,” Chodron said.

Screenshot of Times of India article.

Click here to download a PDF.

No one shares your sorrow

In her two-hour talk, Chodron threw light on various aspects of human suffering and how to tackle them. “They are many who invite others to their ‘pity parties’. But no one attends them. Does anybody come and tell you that ‘your problem is my problem’? After self-pity, we become furious. But that doesn’t help either.We need to change our perspective and accept our responsibilities. Your present troubles may be a manifestation of the wrongs you have done in a previous life,” she pointed out.

Healing power of compassion

Speaking about the power of an unconditional smile, she said the impact of compassion is enormous. “This was a long time ago, when one of my friends was 26. She had some problems, which gave rise to suicidal tendencies. One day, she came across a stranger who smiled at her; she said that changed her thinking. The stranger wouldn’t even know how he she had helped her regain confidence and get on with life. That’s how compassion works. Being compassionate to others helps us understand ourselves,” Chodron said.

Hurt by world leaders

Chodron told TOI she was deeply disturbed by the decision of world leaders to bomb terror-hit countries. “Human beings have great potential. By creating fear, terrorists are hurting others and hurting themselves. I’m also upset by the response of world leaders. It is peace that gives satisfaction, not war. Violence will only escalate the problem. In Iraq, Iran and Syria, generations have suffered due to war. Each side has to give up something, to make life peaceful,” she said.

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Women in Buddhism http://thubtenchodron.org/2015/12/buddhist-gender-roles/ Sun, 06 Dec 2015 18:04:46 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=65425

  • Journey into Buddhism
  • What it’s like to be a female Buddhist leader
  • Views on gender issues
  • How to work with the mind living in a chaotic world

Yin Radio Thubten Chodron broadcast (download)

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An American Buddhist abbess http://thubtenchodron.org/2015/11/interview-vision-sravasti-abbey/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 18:18:53 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=66127 Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions.]]>

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The whole of the spiritual life http://thubtenchodron.org/2015/07/friendship-monastics/ Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:40:39 +0000 http://thubtenchodron.org/?p=59009

In the popular imagination the Buddhist monastic is solitary. Hours spent studying, chanting, and meditating leave scant time for that most trying yet rewarding of human pursuits: friendship. Or so the notion goes.

In our far-ranging conversation, the nuns Venerable Thubten Chodron and Ayya Tathaaloka roundly dispel this prevailing conception. Restoring spiritual friendship (in Pali, kalyanamittata) to its rightful place as a central feature of both lay and monastic practice, they encourage aspirants to seek out deep relationships as a crucial site of transformation.

Sarah Conover

What did the Buddha say about spiritual friendship?

Ven. Thubten Chodron: Knowing that we need support for our practice, the Buddha organized the sangha as a group of spiritual friends. It’s very difficult to sustain the discipline necessary for both keeping up the precepts and regular meditation. In ordinary life we usually think of friends as people with whom we have fun, but friendship in Buddhism, especially in monastic life, is different because it is free of attachment. Its aim is to foster an attitude of long-term well-being between those involved.

Venerable Chodron and Ayya Tathaaloka sitting together and smiling.

Friendship in Buddhism, especially in monastic life, is different because it is free of attachment. (Photo by Sravasti Abbey)

People often quote the Buddha as saying, “Friendship is not half of the holy life, but all of it” (Samyutta Nikaya, 45.2). When looked at in context, however, the Buddha’s statement refers to him, the Enlightened One, as the true spiritual friend because he guides us on the path to liberation.

Ayya Tathaaloka: This is the way the Buddha conceives of himself in relation to everyone else: that is, as the kalyanamitta, as the spiritual friend most excellent. In the early Pali texts, the Buddha repeatedly addresses each person he speaks to as a “friend.” There are a few exceptions, but really, he addresses everyone in a very honorable way, from the highest station in life to the lowest, whether monastic or lay, as a friend.

The Buddha had a tremendous spiritual friendship with the being who became his wife in his final life, and who later became one of the bhikkhuni arhats, Yasodhara Rahulamata. There is also a recurring thread of the Seven Sisters—seven of the Buddha’s foremost women disciples whose life stories of spiritual companionship span eons.

How did you two meet and become spiritual friends? When did you recognize the other person as someone who’d be important to you?

AT: It was at Shasta Abbey in 1996. That is my first memory. Ven. Chodron so encouraged me at that time! …

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