The Buddha, who lived more than 2,500 years ago, had thousands of followers in the spiritual life. During the many years he was travelling across India and teaching the Buddha was attended by a close friend, his cousin Ananda. Ananda was always present when the Buddha spoke with visitors and followers, and was known for his outstanding memory of everything he heard.
One day Ananda, who had been thinking deeply about things for a while, turned to the Buddha and exclaimed:
”Lord, I’ve been thinking- spiritual friendship is at least half of the spiritual life!”
The Buddha replied: “Say not so, Ananda, say not so. Spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life!”
(Samyutta Nikaya, Verse 2)
We can read about Buddhism and practice meditation on our own, but we may not make as much progress as if we study and practice within the context of a sangha, a spiritual community. We are very fortunate to practice within this context at Aryaloka, the spiritual home of many who come to study, to meditate and to share spiritual friendship, “the whole of the spiritual life.” At Aryaloka, friendships are made by attending classes and retreats together, working together on projects, making meals together, and getting together for tea and conversation. Friends support us in our spiritual practice, an approach we value as we practice the Dharma at Aryaloka.