Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.1.8
Upaḍḍhasuttaṃ - The Importance of a Kalyāṇamitta

Sūriyassa, bhikkhave, udayato1 etaṃ pubbaṅgamaṃ etaṃ pubbanimittaṃ,2 yadidaṃ – aruṇuggaṃ;3 evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno ariyassa aṭṭhaṅgikassa maggassa uppādāya etaṃ pubbaṅgamaṃ etaṃ pubbanimittaṃ, yadidaṃ kalyāṇamittatā.

Kalyāṇamittassetaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno pāṭikaṅkhaṃ – ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bhāvessati, ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bahulīkarissati.”4

The forerunner and precursor of the rising of the sun, Bhikkhus, is the dawn. In the same way, Bhikkhus, for a Bhikkhu there is a forerunner and precursor for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path and that is supportive virtuous friendship.

When a Bhikkhu has a supportive virtuous friend, it is to be expected that he will develop this Noble Eightfold Path and cultivate this Noble Eightfold Path.

This importance for anyone walking on the path to have supportive, mutual, long-lasting friendships, that the Buddha called kalyāṇamitta, was pointed out by him in various situations. Furthermore, he also declares that kalyāṇamitta is the one thing that is greatly supportive for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path.5

Ekadhammo, bhikkhave, bahūpakāro6 ariyassa aṭṭhaṅgikassa maggassa uppādāya. Katamo ekadhammo? Yadidaṃ kalyāṇamittatā.

In literal translation the compound kalyāṇamitta gets divided into kalyāṇa + mitta. kalyāṇa is an adjective meaning ‘virtuous, auspicious, good, helpful, morally good’ and mitta means ‘friend, companion’. The compound kalyāṇamitta describes a good, supportive friend, a virtuous friend whose advice is beneficial; a kalyāṇamitta is a guide on the path who encourages, supports and leads — a friend who acts as a mentor, a spiritual adviser; a kalyāṇamitta is the embodiment of faith, of moral perfection, of renunciation and of wisdom.

The term kalyāṇamittatā describes ‘supportive, mutual friendship’ between at least two kalyāṇamittā.

Further references also point to the fact that there may be no other perceivable thing by which the un-arisen Noble Eightfold Path arises, and once arisen develops and reaches fulfilment through the support of such beneficial companions.

Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi, yena anuppanno vā ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo uppajjati, uppanno vā ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchati, yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, kalyāṇamittatā.7

It is also said that:

… kalyāṇamittassetaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno pāṭikaṅkhaṃ —satta bojjhaṅge bhāvessati, satta bojjhaṅge bahulīkarissati.

When a Bhikkhu has a virtuous, supportive friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the seven factors of enlightenment.8

At one time, as highlighted in this present Upaḍḍhasutta, the Venerable Ānanda approaches the Buddha and expresses his conviction that the companionship of kalyāṇamitta is essential. In his reply the Buddha emphasises the overall importance of having such supportive friends.9 He enlightens Ānanda that having supportive, virtuous comrades is not only half of, but rather, the whole of the holy life. He says:

Kalyāṇamittassetaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno pāṭikaṅkhaṃ ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bhāvessati, ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bahulīkarissati.

When a Bhikkhu has virtuous people as friends it can be expected that he will pursue the Noble Eightfold Path and that he will develop the Noble Eightfold Path.

Kalyāṇamitta — companionship and association with a supportive and ethical virtuous environment that reinforces guidance and provides support — is likewise crucial for anyone on a spiritual quest. One may have gone forth or one may be leading a life as a householder, as can be seen in the Dīghajāṇusutta10 where the Buddha underscores:

… vuddhā vā vuddhasīlino, saddhāsampannā, sīlasampannā, cāgasampannā, paññāsampannā – tehi saddhiṃ santiṭṭhati sallapati sākacchaṃ samāpajjati;

… With those he associates, communicates and discusses … with those who are well-established in morality, established in faith, established in sīla, are generous and established in pañña.

The subsequent eight chapters in this course depict the respective constituents of the Noble Eightfold Path in more detail. When the Venerable Phussathera portended the foreboding of the ‘last time’ when the Dhamma was to disappear, he proved a true kalyāṇamitta by encouraging and stirring his listeners to make best use of the remaining period! May the readers establish themselves fully in each and every component of the Noble Eightfold Path by following the advice of Venerable Phussathera:11

Bhāvethaṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ, phusantā amataṃ padanti

Develop the Eightfold Path, to attain the deathless state.

  1. udayato: rising.1

  2. pubbanimittaṃ: pubba + nimittaṃ – before + sign.2

  3. aruṇuggaṃ: aruṇa + uggaṃ – dawn; the sun + rise: sunrise.3

  4. Kalyāṇamittasuttaṃ, Sūriyapeyyālavaggo, Maggasaṃyuttaṃ, Mahāvaggo, Saṃyuttanikāyo.4

  5. Kalyāṇamittasuttaṃ, Ekadhammapeyyālavaggo, Maggasaṃyuttaṃ, Mahāvaggo, Saṃyuttanikāyo.5

  6. bahūpakāro: bahu +upakāro – many, much + advantage, benefit, use, help.6

  7. Aṅguttaranikāyo, Ekakanipātapāḷi, Kalyāṇamittādivaggo.7

  8. Paṭhamasūriyūpamasuttaṃ, Gilānavaggo, Bojjhaṅgasaṃyuttaṃ, Mahāvaggo, Saṃyuttanikāyo.8

  9. An inspiring example of harmonious, mutual conduct of kalyāṇamitta can be seen in 1.4.6 Cūḷagosiṅgasuttaṃ - Like Milk and Water Dwelling in Harmony.9

  10. See 3.6.7 Dīghajāṇusuttaṃ - Earning One’s Bread Honestly by the Sweat of One’s Brow.10

  11. See 2.1.15 Phussattheragāthā - 2500 Years Are Over! The Clock of Vipassana Has Struck! Make Use of This Rare Opportunity!11

Last modified: Monday, 20 May 2024, 5:59 PM